Quarterly U.S. Rural Economic Review

Second Quarter 2021

A Long Tail: Pandemic After-Effects are Just Beginning

Agri-food invests in resiliency as it benefits from the snapback recovery
The long-awaited period of pent-up, exuberant demand is here. And for all the benefits to businesses and consumers, bumps are unavoidable – labor shortages, price inflation, supply chain disruptions, and uncertainty about what a new steady-state economy will look like. They loom large, even as we celebrate a return to normalcy.

Topics in this Issue:

  • Booming Demand, Limited Supply Response Will Support Animal Protein Prices Through 2021
  • Historic Drought Shrinks Crop Prospects in Western U.S. 
  • Communications M&A Still Robust, White House Readies Broadband Funding Spigot
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First Quarter 2021

We’re Not Going Back to Pre-COVID Conditions

In Washington, policy focus is shifting to building for the future. On the rural front, agriculture has its swagger back.

Anticipation of a return to normal is in the air. But for the economy and rural industries, there will be no going back to pre-COVID conditions. The combination of trillions of dollars in federal stimulus spending, warm weather, vaccinations, and a persistently dovish Fed will soon generate a burst of economic activity unparalleled since 1984. But the impending release of cash-rich, inoculated consumers has spurred concern about a risk that’s also been dormant since the 1980s: inflation.

Topics In this Issue:
  • Historic Winter Storm Couldn’t Disrupt Beef’s Robust Start to 2021
  • Trade Logistics Snarl U.S. Dairy Exports
  • What Does “Build Back Better” Mean for Energy and Water?
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Fourth Quarter 2020

New Year Optimism Confronts the Pandemic

With difficult months still ahead, second half of the year should power the U.S. economy

2021 has quickly altered the political and market landscape. And optimism, particularly about the second half of the year, is rising. But to get there, all of us must
muddle through for a few months more.

Topics In this Issue:
  • $5 Corn and Beans in the Teens
  • Cable Broadband Soars, Video Dives
  • Year-end Natural Gas Price Collapse Thwarts New Year
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Third Quarter 2020

The Fragile Recovery is About to be Tested

Rebounding from the virus has been difficult, and more challenges lie ahead.

The coronavirus pandemic has now impacted all four quarters of 2020, and seemingly every aspect of life and business. The U.S. economy has been improving since late spring, but progress has slowed measurably, and with broad fiscal relief now off the table at least in the near-term, the economy will likely end the year in a fizzle.

Topics In this Issue:
  • The Candidates’ Best Laid Economic Plans
  • Grains Exports: Will Actual Shipments Follow Recent Large Sales to China?
  • Cheese, Butter Stocks Rise Heading into Holiday Season
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Second Quarter 2020

Rural Resilience in the Pandemic

Over the past two decades, the U.S. rural economy has trailed the urban economy in just about every measurable category, including GDP and employment. The rural-urban divide grew particularly wide during the years following the 2008-09 financial crisis. But that trend may be changing.

Topics In this Issue:
  • Dented Food Service Demand Defines Q2
  • Dairy Sector Struggles Through Extreme Market Volatility
  • What the “New Normal” Signifies for Rural Energy and Water
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First Quarter 2020

Coronavirus Testing Labor and Supply Chains of Essential Rural Industries

COVID-19 has brought the U.S. economy to a screeching halt, and ushered in a recession in the process. The number of U.S. coronavirus cases is now expected to peak by late April, and the economy should begin to come back to life in May. 

Topics In this Issue:
  • COVID-19 Disrupts Labor, Supply Chains and Consumer Behavior
  • Macro Economic Outlook
  • California’s Water Law will Stress Irrigators
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Second Quarter 2019

Stalled Trade Talks, Record Rains Upend Agriculture

Global economic growth continues to slide as tariffs drag on global trade and manufacturing. In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that global growth in 2019 would slow to 3.3%, down from 3.6% in 2018, as trade tensions take a bigger toll on business confidence.

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First Quarter 2019

Agriculture Still Waiting for Relief

U.S. agriculture is poised for serious challenges for the remainder of 2019. Large grain and oilseed supplies, continuing increases in global animal protein and dairy production and major trade uncertainties will prevail for much of the year. At the same time, U.S. and global economic growth rates will slow.

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Fourth Quarter 2018

Agriculture Limps into 2019

Agriculture and its farmer cooperatives will face a challenging environment in 2019. Commodity markets have steadied, but resolution of ongoing trade disputes and completion of recently concluded trade negotiations will be critical to restoring optimism for the year ahead.

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Third Quarter 2018

Rising Output Compressing Agricultural Margins

Ongoing trade negotiations and disputes continue to be a disruptive factor in both the short-term and long-term outlook for U.S. agriculture and its farmer cooperatives.

Strong growth in the U.S. and global economies will support demand in the domestic and export markets through much of 2019.

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