QUINCY -- Market reports due out Friday and the hoped-for signing of the first phase of a trade deal with China next week could signal a positive start to the year for farmers.
"These two weeks will set the tone for 2020," said Joe Camp, manager of AgriVisor LLC.
Friday's crop report will set supply totals for the 2019 crop and a quarterly grain stocks report will share "how the crop is being held, either on farm or in commercial storage" and highlight the pace of demand through the first quarter of the marketing year, Camp said, while a world agricultural supply and demand report "could be very important considering recent developments on U.S. trade deals."
And the China deal, with a purchase commitment for U.S. ag commodities, potentially could be very beneficial for markets.
Thanks to the agreement, the Chinese will buy soybeans "whether they need them or not," Camp said. "If they don't need as many soybeans as before African Swine Fever, they'll make good on the commitment and follow through even if they have to store them in government-owned stockpiles."
The agreement also will impact pork and other grain commodities.
"We should see import interest extend to the wheat market and eventually corn, too," Camp said.
Camp provided a market outlook Thursday afternoon in Pittsfield as Country Financial, Illinois Farm Bureau and other organizations teamed up to offer a program to help farmers plan and prepare for a successful crop planting season.
"One notable feature of this market in 2020 is that we're starting off in a much different way than in 2019," Camp said. "In ‘19, it was peak of the trade war. We had huge crops being held not just in the U.S. but around the world, and the sentiment was decidedly bearish."
Speakers in Pittsfield offered updates on crop insurance, the farm bill and a crop claims update, while at a similar meeting Thursday morning at the Adams County Farm Bureau in Quincy, Doug Yoder highlighted the farm bill and crop insurance changes for the new year.
Farmers have until March 15 to sign up under the farm bill for the 2019 and 2020 crop years.
"This farm bill learning curve is much easier than five years ago, but still it's a very important decision," said Yoder, crop agency manager for Country Financial. "We need to make sure we get enough information to make the right decision for each farm."
Liberty farmers Don and Diana McCleary wanted to take home as much information as possible about both topics
"We usually take something away every year," she said. "Even if it's just one thing, sometimes that can be important."
Illinois and the U.S. broke records for total prevent plant acreage last year, covered under crop insurance. Yoder said Country Financial's previous payout record on prevent plant was about $9 million, but 2019 conditions led to paying out $45 million.
"When you go through something of that magnitude, typically you learn something, see some changes," Yoder said. "We'll see some changes in farmer selections and how they view their policy choices and see some changes from the government."
The problem, Yoder said, was that a lot of customers fortunately never had to deal with prevent plant and its insurance options. "It was a huge learning curve last year," he said. "It's good to get that behind us."