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Ag Insight

Similarities, differences in U.S., Mexican corn production

As the leading crop produced by both Mexico and the United States, corn is grown in many parts of each country, but cultivation is concentrated in areas best suited to corn production.

In the United States, corn is cultivated primarily in the country’s Midwestern States, stretching from Nebraska to Ohio, a region dubbed the “Corn Belt.” Nearly 80 percent of U.S. corn area is rain-fed, with irrigated production occupying much of corn-growing areas in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and Texas.

The largest quantities of production occur in Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota. States that also lead in yields.

U.S. corn production is almost exclusively of the yellow corn variety, with the majority used for purposes other than human consumption (e.g., feed, ethanol).

In contrast, Mexico produces mainly white corn, and a greater share of Mexican corn than U.S. corn is used for food. Although white corn is grown in all of Mexico’s 32 states, 10 states account for 84 percent of production, and two states (Sinaloa and Jalisco) account for over one-third.

Alabama communities receive USDA loans, grants

Seven Alabama communities will receive loans and grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to improve community facilities and infrastructure.

As part of USDA’s Rural Development Investment efforts, six recipients are:


The town of Loxley where $111,400 in loans and a $46,000 loan will go for four new trucks, three equipped as police vehicles and one for administrative use.


The city of Sheffield where $2.748 million in loans will be used to build roadways to a new development where a new hotel, amphitheater, event center and retail center are planned.


The Paint Rock Volunteer Fire Department where a loan of $39,700 and a $35,300 grant will be used to upgrade equipment.


The Waterloo Volunteer Fire District where a $110,000 loan will be used for a vehicle upgrade, new hydraulic tools for rescue work and paying off an existing loan.


The Elkmont Volunteer Fire Department where a $70,000 loan will go for purchasing a pumper fire truck.


The East Providence Volunteer Fire Department where a $121,000 loan and a $20,000 grant will be used to build an addition to the current fire station that isn’t adequate to house the department’s fire trucks and equipment.

The utilities board of the city of Opp has been named to receive a $4.16 million loan from USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. The loan is among the $201 million being invested in rural communities in 31 states.

The loan will be used for numerous upgrades to Opp’s sewer treatment facility due to the operation’s age and condition. Leaking water mains and piping also are to be replaced.

Spending habits of food-secure, -insecure households


While most households in the United States are food secure, meaning they have access to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members, some U.S. households don’t meet that goal.

In a food-insecure household, not all members have enough food at all times to live active, healthy lives. Researchers from USDA’s Economic Research Service examined the food purchases of low-income, food-insecure households and compared them to purchases of low-income, food-secure households with similar characteristics.

In particular, they examined differences in the types of places at which the two household groups spent their at-home food dollars, using data from USDA’s National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey.

The researchers found food-insecure households made nearly 20 percent of their food-at-home purchases at convenience stores, while food-secure households spent 10 percent of their food-at-home dollars at convenience stores. Food-secure households spent a larger share of their food-at-home budgets at traditional grocery stores or supermarkets and at large warehouse club stores or supercenters.

2019 net farm income expected to increase, but

U.S. net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to increase $4.0 billion (4.8 percent) to $88 billion in 2019, but the predicted total will be 35.5 percent below its peak of $136.5 billion in 2013 and also under the 2000-18 average of $90.1 billion.

In inflation-adjusted 2019 dollars, net farm income is forecast to increase $2.5 billion (2.9 percent) from 2018.

Net cash farm income is forecast to increase $7.6 billion (7.3 percent) to $112.6 billion. Inflation-adjusted net cash farm income is forecast to increase $5.8 billion (5.4 percent) from 2018, 4 percent above its 2000-18 average ($108.3 billion).

Net cash farm income encompasses cash receipts from farming as well as farm-related income, including government payments, minus cash expenses. It does not include noncash items – including changes in inventories, economic depreciation and gross imputed rental income of operator dwellings – reflected in the net farm income measure stated.

Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to decrease $2.4 billion (0.6 percent) to $371.1 billion (in nominal terms) in 2019. Total animal/animal product receipts are expected to increase $0.9 billion (0.5 percent), but fall 1.3 percent when adjusted for inflation.

Increases in milk and hog receipts are expected to be nearly offset by declines in broiler and chicken egg receipts. Total crop receipts are expected to decrease $3.3 billion (1.7 percent) in nominal terms from 2018 levels following expected decreases in soybean receipts.

Direct government farm payments are forecast to increase $5.8 billion (42.5 percent) to $19.5 billion in 2019, with most of the increase due to higher anticipated payments from the Market Facilitation Program.

Off-farm jobs more common for newer operators

Principal operators of beginning farms have no more than 10 years of experience as a farm or ranch operator and are more likely to work off-farm than more established operators.

In 2017, the latest year for which complete figures are available, 67 percent of beginning farm principal operators worked off-farm, compared to 45 percent of established farm operators.

About 22 percent of beginning farm principal operators worked off-farm part time (1-199 days), compared to 15 percent of established farm operators. And 45 percent of beginning farm operators worked off-farm full time (200+ days), compared to 30 percent of established farm operators.

From 2013 to 2017, 47 percent of beginning farms were classified as off-farm occupation farms – with gross cash farm income less than $350,000 per year and a principal operator who reports a major occupation other than farming – compared to 27 percent of established farms.

Alabama woman named to national advisory committee

An Alabama woman, E’licia L. Chaverest, of Madison, is one of 20 members recently appointed by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to serve on the Advisory Committee for New and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. The newly appointed members serve terms of up to two years through 2021.

The Committee includes representatives from: state beginning farming programs; commercial lenders; private nonprofit organizations with active beginning farmer or rancher programs; the National Institute of Food and Agriculture; the Farm Service Agency; community colleges or other educational institutions with demonstrated experience in training beginning farmers and ranchers; and other entities or persons providing lending or technical assistance for qualified beginning farmers and ranchers.

Chaverest is the assistant director of the small farms research center at Alabama A&M University.

Study reveals nation’s favorite fruits

What are the nation’s favorite fruits? It’s not the easiest answer to come up with because of the different ways various fruits are marketed and consumed – ranging from fresh products to processed items and juices.

But in 2017, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, apples and oranges took the top two spots on the list.

According to USDA’s Economic Research Service, in 2017, 113.8 pounds of fresh and processed fruit per person were available for U.S. consumption after adjusting for losses, according to ERS’s loss-adjusted food availability data.

This data series takes per capita supplies of food available for human consumption and more closely approximates actual consumption by adjusting for some of the spoilage, plate waste and other losses in eating places, grocery stores and the home.

Loss-adjusted apple juice availability at 13.8 pounds (1.6 gallons) per person in 2017, combined with fresh apples (almost 10 pounds per person), and canned, dried and frozen apples (3.4 pounds per person), put apples in the top spot for total fruit consumption.

Loss-adjusted orange juice availability has steadily declined, reaching a low of 18.2 pounds (2.1 gallons) per person in 2017. But orange juice usage still is the largest among fruits, and this and fresh fruit consumption were enough for an overall second place.

Loss-adjusted availability of fresh bananas was 14.1 pounds per person in 2017, 4 pounds per person more than fresh apples. Loss-adjusted availability of grapes reached 7.6 pounds per person, and strawberries, pineapple and watermelon rounded out the list of America’s top fruit choices.

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