The wet weather in the Corn Belt has delayed planting, but it has also brought subsoil moisture levels up; this bodes well for the 2013 United States corn crop, according to Tim Brusnahan, vice president of consulting, Brock and Associates. Brusnahan told the audience of the WATT Crop Forecast and Meat Supply and Price Outlook webinar that the delay in corn planting will make it difficult for this to be an above-trend-line year for the corn harvest but that a big enough harvest is expected to lower corn prices significantly below the prices experienced since the impact of last summer’s drought became evident.

Brusnahan predicts that farm price for corn could average between $4.25-$5.00 per bushel in the 2013-2014 crop year if a good harvest is realized. This drop would represent approximately a $2.00 per bushel reduction from what buyers have had to pay in the last crop year. A drop in corn prices would be good news for all users of corn, but broiler producers have other reasons to smile, according to Dr. Paul Aho, consulting economist, Poultry Perspective. As a result of high grain prices and the impact of the drought in the western U.S. on pasture lands, the U.S. cattle herd has been reduced. Chicken meat and pork supplies will rise somewhat this year from 2012, but not enough to keep prices from rising.

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Boneless skinless breast meat prices topped $2.00 per pound on May 13, 2013, Aho reported. He said that the industry has tried to ramp up production, but with a reduced breeder flock, all the way through the grandparent level, it will take time, perhaps into 2014, before for U.S. chicken production increases significantly. All of this means that U.S. broiler producers may enter a period of record profitability—or at least the best profits that Aho has seen in his 30 years of following the U.S. broiler industry.

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