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April 22, 2020
By Mary HightowerU of A System Division of Agriculture
(563 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Rice prices continued to grow slowly, while the shadow of COVID-19
continued to loom darkly over the world’s cotton industry, according to a report Monday
by agricultural economists with the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
The report, published online, was produced by Scott Stiles, extension economist; Brad
Watkins, professor; Bob Stark, professor based at the University of Arkansas-Monticello,
and Alvaro Durand-Morat, assistant professor; all with the department of agricultural
economics and agribusiness.
In addition to COVID’s impact on the global markets, Arkansas’ crop producers have
two other worries. The first includes the extended periods of wet conditions and waves
of severe weather that have damaged farms and shut power down to large swaths of the
state for days at a time. The second is the lingering fear that COVID will affect
the health and availability of on-farm labor.
“The next issue I see potentially coming up are issues associated with workers becoming
ill and not having the manpower,” said Jarrod Hardke, extension rice agronomist for
the Division of Agriculture. “Most do not have sufficient crews to withstand loss
of personnel, but if more cases begin increasing in the farming community these operations
are going to be extremely burdened getting fields prepared and planted.
“I’m starting to encourage growers to make their ‘what if’ plans for these scenarios,”
Rice prices in the U.S. remain strong with cash paddy prices ranging from $14.25-$15.00
per hundredweight. New crop future prices increased slightly by 0.5 percent and closed
at $12.11 the week of April 13. Thai 5 percent broken long grain rice was quoted at
$572 per ton the week of April 13, running at least $100 above competing Asian countries.
In India and Pakistan, COVID-19 is putting a drag on the countries’ export capacity.
Corn futures were down 2 percent last week. Arkansas cash corn price bottomed on Wednesday
at $3.27 per bushel before rising to a closing statewide average of $3.32 on Friday,
Soybean futures prices were down 2.8 percent last week, closing at $8.51 per bushel
for the week of April 17. Despite a midweek recovery before Easter, prices slid to
an $8.30 closing average on April 17.
“Cotton prices remain under pressure as the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects
global cotton consumption to fall to a six-year low and world ending stocks to reach
five-year highs,” Siles said. In its April supply and demand estimates, USDA expects
the U.S. 2019/20 season-average farm price to be 59 cents per pound.
“Over the past four weeks, applications in the U.S. for unemployment benefits have
swelled to more than 22 million people,” he said. “This likely translates into a massive
drop in textile and apparel sales and a significant impact on the global textile sector
“Anecdotal evidence in recent weeks indicates that growers are still evaluating planting
decisions and, in some instances, reducing cotton acreage,” Stiles said. Alternative
corn and soybean crops are seeing prices “at historically low levels,” however, they
might offer advantages in terms of lower production costs and less intensive management.
“Further reductions in 2020 cotton acres may lay the foundation for a modest price
recovery later in the 2020/21 marketing year,” he said.
To learn more about agricultural economics, contact your local county extension agent
or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary HightowerDirector of CommunicationsUniversity of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture firstname.lastname@example.org 501-671-2006