2019 Outlook For Northwest Agricultural Producers Remains Varied

Northwest Farm Credit Services, the Northwest’s leading agricultural lending cooperative, has released its quarterly Market Snapshot reports that look at the state of major agricultural commodities in the region. Northwest FCS industry teams working throughout Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington monitor conditions and report outlooks for commodities financed by the co-op.

All Market Snapshots are posted online at Industry Insights.

Northwest FCS’ 12-month outlook for the agricultural commodities most common in the Northwest are summarized below.

Cattle Modest returns are projected throughout the beef industry. Trade negotiations and feed costs continue to fuel uncertainty in the market. Increasing feed costs will narrow feedlot margins and transfer into lower calf prices this fall.

Dairy Futures markets suggest slightly unprofitable to break-even milk prices through the first half of 2019, with increasing prices for both Class III and Class IV milk for the remainder of 2019.

Fisheries Fisheries should realize profitable returns over the next 12 months. The “Wild Alaska” pollock branding continues to increase consumer interest for new products, resulting in higher prices for the biggest Alaskan fishery. Cod prices are softening but remain high compared to historical averages. Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is gearing up for another valuable catch.

Forest Products Despite declines in early 2019 log prices, timberland owners are expected to be profitable through the year. Only modest profits are expected at mills as they work through higher-priced contracted log inventory and lower pricing for their lumber.

Hay Alfalfa and timothy hay producers should be profitable. Low inventory and improved dairy profitability bode well for prices, despite lower export volume to China.

Nursery/Greenhouse Nursery and greenhouse operators should see modest gains in sales growth. Stable housing starts and positive consumer sentiment should keep demand for nursery/greenhouse products solid. Inventory buildup could create headwinds.

Onions Profitable returns are projected for onions over the next 12 months. Yield expectations are muted by delayed planting and cold weather in the Treasure Valley. In contrast, near-ideal growing conditions in the Columbia Basin offset late planting. Producers with remaining 2018-19 inventory will enjoy very profitable returns late in the 2018-19 shipping season.

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