Farm Economy Rebounds Sharply

February 11, 2021 | Ag Credit Survey
Prospects for farm income and agricultural credit conditions rebounded sharply in the fourth quarter of 2020. , according to the Kansas City Fed’s quarterly Agricultural Credit Survey.

New Ag Bulletin Provides Summary of Economic Conditions for U.S. Agricultural Sector

February 05, 2021 | Ag Bulletin
Economic conditions in U.S. agriculture improved dramatically in the fourth quarter of 2020 alongside sharp increases in the prices of several major commodities. View the Ag Bulletin for a high-level U.S. ag outlook. 

Ag Lending Update: Fewer New Loans to Farmers

January 13, 2021 | Ag Finance Update

Fewer new loans to farmers continued to drive a pullback in agricultural lending activity. Read more in the Ag Finance Update

Ag Lending Update: Ag Banks Trim Farm Lending

December 04, 2020 | Ag Finance Update

Farm loans outstanding at commercial banks declined in the third quarter and non-performing loans edged slightly higher. Read more in the Ag Finance Update

Drought Risk to the Agriculture Sector

December 03, 2020 | Economic Review

Farmer losses from extreme drought represent an economically relevant share of crop production values, and may increase in coming decades as global temperatures rise. Read more in the Economic Review

Farm Financial Outlook Improves

November 12, 2020 | Ag Credit Survey
The outlook for agricultural credit conditions in the Tenth District improved in the third quarter alongside increases in commodity prices and the announcement of additional government aid.

Third Quarter National Survey of Terms of Lending to Farmers: Fewer Loans Issued to Farmers Limit Lending Activity

October 22, 2020 | Ag Finance Update

A slower pace of farm financing activity continued in the third quarter according to the National Survey of Terms of Lending to Farmers. Read more in the Ag Finance Update

Ag Symposium Research: The Roots of Agricultural Productivity Growth

October 23, 2020 | Ag Symposium Research

This year's Agricultural Symposium, titled "The Roots of Agricultural Productivity Growth," was cancelled due to the pandemic, but the topic of productivity growth in agriculture remains relevant. Papers written in anticipation of the 2020 symposium are now available as part of Agricultural Symposium Research

Outlook for Agriculture: U.S. and 5th District

October 07, 2020 | Ag Outlook

As part of the Richmond Fed's Investing in Rural America Week, Nate Kauffman provided an outlook for U.S. and Fifth District agriculture. View the presentation

Pandemic Adds Pressure to Farm Finances

August 13, 2020 | Ag Credit Survey, Second Quarter 2020

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to pressure the agricultural economy and weighed on farm finances in the Tenth District, according to the Kansas City Fed’s quarterly Agricultural Credit Survey.

COVID-19 Disruptions in the U.S. Meat Supply Chain

July 31, 2020 | Ag Outlook

The emergence of COVID-19 in the United States has created substantial challenges for all segments of the meat supply chain, but especially for producers and consumers. Read more

Agricultural Lending Consistently Slower

July 16, 2020 | Ag Finance Databook
Farm lending slowed alongside the initial effects of the pandemic and a more pessimistic outlook for agricultural economic conditions, according to the Agricultural Finance Databook. 

Reshuffling in Soybean Markets following Chinese Tariffs

June 18, 2020 | Economic Review
In 2018, China significantly increased tariffs on imports of several agricultural commodities from the United States, including a 25 percentage point rise in the tariff on soybeans. This article examines the initial market responses and potential long-term implications of Chinese tariffs amid other supply and demand disruptions. Read more

Examining the Relationships between Land Values and Credit Availability

May 19, 2020 | Research Working Paper
Considering factors that represent credit availability at agricultural banks together, rather than separately, can better capture their effects on farmland values. Read more. 

Food Supply Chains in the COVID-19 Era

April 17, 2020 | ten
During the COVID-19 pandemic, breakdowns or bottlenecks in any segment of the food supply chain could affect others up and down the chain. In this article, Omaha Branch Executive Nathan Kauffman sheds light on the food production supply chain and today's unique challenges.

COVID-19 Economic Developments and U.S. Agriculture

April 16, 2020 | Economic Update
Omaha Branch Executive Nathan Kauffman joined the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Department of Agricultural Economics for a webinar focused on recent national and regional economic developments connected to COVID-19 and implications for U.S. agriculture. View the slides here

Ag Finance Updates

December 4, 2020
Agricultural loan balances at commercial banks continued to decrease in the third quarter, according to Call Report data. Most of the recent decrease was driven by non-real estate loans, which were nearly 5% less than the previous year, the largest drop in more than 15 years. 

Read more in the Ag Finance Update article Ag Banks Trim Farm Lending


November 24, 2020
Farm income and loan repayments rates recovered from sharp declines in the second quarter, and demand for credit softened according to Federal Reserve District Ag Credit Surveys. Although farm income generally remained low, rates of loan repayment stabilized, and farmland real estate markets remained strong.

Farm loan demand moderated in all Federal Reserve districts for the first time since 2013 in the third quarter. Although a majority of bankers in the Dallas District have reported lower lending activity since 2016, the third quarter was the first time in seven years that bankers reported a decline in the credit needs of farm borrowers in all districts.

Read more in the Ag Finance Update article Ag Credit Conditions Recover in the Third Quarter.


COVID-19 Updates & Key Demand Drivers for Agriculture


June 22, 2020
The USDA announced details of the Coronavirus Food and Aid Program (CFAP) in May and allocation of support is expected to be more heavily directed towards the livestock sector. Assistance was made available to producers of agricultural commodities with a price decline of at least 5 percent due to the pandemic and those facing increased marketing costs for inventories resulting from unexpected surplus and disrupted markets. On average, corn, soybean, and wheat farmers are expected to receive payments equal to about 5 to 10 percent of market price on half of 2019 production, or 2 to 5 percent of support on their entire crop. Aid for livestock producers, however, is expected to be comparably higher. Payments to cattle producers could amount to 20 percent of the average price received for cattle, while support for hog producers could be as high 30 percent.

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June 22, 2020
Amid the global economic contraction, increases in U.S. agricultural exports have been limited, particularly with respect to China. Growth in trade with China, a key source of demand for many major U.S. agricultural commodities, remained subdued through April. Exports to China increased about 18 percent from the same period a year ago, but remained well below levels reached during this time in 2017. Exports to all other destinations remained slightly higher than 2017, but the increase was not enough to offset the reduction in exports to China.


June 22, 2020
Ethanol production declined sharply in late March and appears likely to remain subdued in the coming months. In the midst of developments surrounding COVID-19, ethanol production declined 6 percent in March and 45 percent in April from year-ago levels. Activity rebounded slightly in May, but remained 34 percent lower than a year ago. Although more recent estimates point to a slightly stronger recovery in the outlook for 2021, expectations as of June remain below levels forecasted in March. Lower ethanol production will reduce demand for corn in 2020 and the June projections also suggest the effects of the pandemic on ethanol and corn markets could last longer than previously anticipated.


June 22, 2020
All previously idle meat packing plants have reopened, but effects of COVID-19 continued to impede supply chain functions. The first outbreak of COVID-19 in the meat packing industry occurred on March 31, 2020, at a beef packing plant in Pennsylvania. Since then, almost half of plants that reported an outbreak closed for some period of time. In fact, most facilities that did close were shut down for more than one week. As of June 22, 2020, all beef, pork, and poultry packing plants that had closed due to COVID-19 were reopened and operating. However, the magnitude and duration of closures and ongoing concerns about the spread of the virus has raised questions about implications for meat production and the supply chain moving forward.


June 22, 2020
Capacity utilization at meat packing plants increased slightly since early May, but appeared to remain slightly limited by modified operations. After declining sharply alongside closures, the percent of total capacity being used at U.S. beef and pork plants expanded as facilities reopened. Despite fewer plant closures, modified operations related to social distancing and other precautionary measures have continued to impact overall production capabilities. Through the third week of June, beef and pork plants were utilizing about 95 percent and 92 of pre-pandemic capacity, respectively.


June 22, 2020
Alongside reduced operational capacity at packing plants, meat production continued to lag 2019 levels. As packing plants reopened, daily slaughter of cattle and hogs increased from lows reached in early May. However, both beef and pork production remained more than 5 percent lower than a year ago during the first week in June. It appeared that modified operations and revised processes related to COVID-19 have continued to put some constraints on production, even as plants have resumed operations.


June 22, 2020
Compounding the challenges facing U.S. meat supply chains related to COVID-19 outbreaks at packing plants, consumers rapidly shifted purchases of food from foodservice to retail outlets in March. Foot traffic at supermarkets was roughly double that of restaurants in March and April and remained about 30 percent higher in early June.  At the same time in 2019, supermarkets and restaurants had equal amounts of foot traffic. The combination of challenges caused wholesale meat prices to increase substantially and also put upward pressure on retail meat prices. Through the first part of June, prices for boxed beef cutouts remained about 10 percent higher than the beginning of the year and pork carcass cutouts had stabilized. 


June 12, 2020
All previously idle meat packing plants have reopened, but effects of COVID-19 continued to impede supply chain functions. The first outbreak of COVID-19 in the meat packing industry occurred on March 31, 2020, at a beef packing plant in Pennsylvania. Since then, almost half of plants that reported an outbreak closed for some period of time. In fact, most facilities that did close were shut down for more than one week. As of June 12, 2020, all beef, pork, and poultry packing plants that had closed due to COVID-19 were reopened and operating. However, the magnitude and duration of the closures has raised questions about the implications for meat production and the supply chain moving forward.


May 14, 2020
Several meat packing facilities have reopened in the last week, but many continue to run at limited capacity due to outbreaks of COVID-19. On average, about 10 percent of employees at beef, pork, and poultry plants tested positive for COVID-19, according to data aggregated by the Kansas City Fed. At some plants, COVID-19 affected as much as 30 to 70 percent of the work force. Although plants have restarted operations, social distancing and other precautionary measures may still weigh on meat production moving forward.


May 06, 2020
COVID-19 has led to numerous closures at meatpacking and food processing facilities. In the United States, more than 120 meatpacking and processed food plants have confirmed cases of COVID-19. Of plants with confirmed cases, nearly half have closed temporarily or limited operations. Closures and slowdowns at beef and pork packing plants have reduced U.S. daily meat production by as much as 40 percent. Although plants are beginning to reopen, most are not running at full capacity due to absenteeism, fewer shifts, or reworking shifts to allow for better social distancing.

Additional Resources


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Nov 17, 2020 | Ag Credit Survey Webinar

By Nathan Kauffman

Nov 6, 2020 | An Economy Disrupted

By Nathan Kauffman

Sep 24, 2020 | Agricultural Finance Update

By Nathan Kauffman

Sep 22, 2020 | Economic Outlook for U.S. Agriculture

By Nathan Kauffman

Sep 2, 2020 | Agricultural Economic Outlook

By Nathan Kauffman

Each year, the Kansas City Fed looks forward to hosting our Agricultural Symposium. Unfortunately, given the circumstances with COVID-19, we made the difficult decision to cancel this year's symposium, which was scheduled for July 30-31 in Kansas City. 

We had planned to focus on agricultural productivity growth at this year's symposium. Though the agricultural sector has faced extraordinary circumstances this year, the value of exploring underlying drivers of agricultural productivity remains. As such, we will still publish papers by our lead speakers later this year, and we may continue the discussion on productivity growth in 2021. 

View resources from past Ag Symposiums.