Agriculture industry struggling with pricing heading into 2017

Agriculture industry struggling with pricing heading into 2017

(KAIT/TALK BUSINESS & POLITICS) - Over-supply in Arkansas' largest industry has led to depressed pricing as the state heads into 2017.

According to Talk Business and Politics, Travis Justice, associate director of commodities and public policy for Arkansas Farm Bureau, said he sees the outlook for the agriculture industry in 2017 as a "mixed bag."

In Arkansas, sustained rain in August is believed to have cost row crop farmers anywhere from $40 million to $50 million and could cause changes among row crop farmers for this year, according to the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.

Additionally, livestock farmers also continue to face a tough battle heading into the new year.

"In the last two years, cattle markets have gone from record highs to dismal lows," said Mike Looper, department head for animal science at University Agri-Cooperative. "In 2016, beef production expanded nearly 6% and is projected to increase an additional 4% again into the next year. Record beef output means lower prices moving into 2017."

Those beef, pork, and poultry levels are only expected to increase heading into 2017, according to projections.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Arkansas farmers produced about 12 billion pounds of rice in 2016, which was nearly half of the country's total rice production.

According to Justice, the lackluster earnings the past few years have taxed farmers' ability to finance operations, kept some markets from expanding, and even forced some farmers out of business.

"We'll carry these depressed levels well into 2017, before we start seeing what the indications of next year's crop is," Justice said.

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