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Outlook For Corn And Soybeans Isn’t Great, But It Could Have Been Worse

Both soybeans and corn are expected to have strong harvests but lower prices this year, according to USDA's most recent global outlook.
Amy Mayer
Harvest Public Media file photo
Both soybeans and corn are expected to have strong harvests but lower prices this year, according to USDA's most recent global outlook.

At the start of 2020, the agricultural economy was poised for a good year. 

Then came COVID-19 and like almost every other sector, it tanked. But Chad Hart, an economist at Iowa State University, says that solid footing is still the foundation for an outlook that is not all doom and gloom.

Hart says theWorld Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimatesthat the U.S Department of Agriculture released this week suggest the growing season and 2020 harvest may be tough, but not devastating. Higher yields will offset lower prices. And Hart says COVID recovery should bring about some of the relief from trade tensions that economists anticipated. 

“They’re looking for that strength to still be there, to return, as we reopen the economy, as we get the global economy moving along,” he says.

Lower prices for corn and soybeans may draw some new or less common uses for the crop, especially if the harvest is as big as predicted. 

“As prices drop, suddenly you’re like, okay I didn’t used to use corn before in this, but I can… and corn is now inexpensive enough that it makes sense for me to do that,” Hart says. “So you would see other uses pop up.”

But even more likely, Hart says, is that farmers will use some of their quieter time in June and July to consider alternative crops for 2021, especially if this year brings them any more unwelcome hurdles in corn and soybeans.

Copyright 2021 Harvest Public Media. To see more, visit .

Amy Mayer is a reporter based in Ames. She covers agriculture and is part of the Harvest Public Media collaboration. Amy worked as an independent producer for many years and also previously had stints as weekend news host and reporter at WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts and as a reporter and host/producer of a weekly call-in health show at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska. Amy’s work has earned awards from SPJ, the Alaska Press Club and the Massachusetts/Rhode Island AP. Her stories have aired on NPR news programs such as Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition and on Only A Game, Marketplace and Living on Earth. She produced the 2011 documentary Peace Corps Voices, which aired in over 160 communities across the country and has written for The New York Times, Boston Globe, Real Simple and other print outlets. Amy served on the board of directors of the Association of Independents in Radio from 2008-2015.