The Department of Agriculture is slashing its corn production estimates again, predicting the worst yield in 15 years. Private consultant John Schnittker says he doesn't buy the talk of a possible world food crisis. Yes, he says, there will be an impact, but corn isn't all that important as a direct food, and supplies of wheat and rice are good, if not high.

“I’m a little skeptical about the apocalyptic writing about a food disaster. Corn is just not that important as a direct food, although it does have the effect of reducing meat supplies.”

USDA predicted record average farm corn prices in a range of $7.50 to $8.90 per bushel, up sharply from the $5.40 to $6.40 per bushel projected in July. Soybean production for 2012/13 is projected at 2.7 billion bushels, down 358 million due to lower harvested area and yields. The U.S. season-average soybean price is projected in a range of $15.00 to $17.00 per bushel, up $2.00 on both ends.

But, numbers for winter wheat were very good according to USDA’s Lance Honig:

“It was actually a very good year for wheat, winter wheat in particular, but that crop of course was grown in a different time frame. Winter Wheat was about 85% harvested by the beginning of August. What we see is a record high 48 bushels per acre.”

According to independent Cotton Market Analyst Mike Stevens cotton projections were up…

“They have increased the production by 650,000 bales, that was a surprise to everyone since most thought that because of the texas drought overall production would be reduced a little.”

But, if the Texas crop doesn't get rain soon – the numbers are going to change dramatically.

USDA Initiates New Measures to Combat Food SNAP Benefits Fraud

While the rate of trafficking in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is only one-percent, it amounts to millions of dollars. This has prompted USDA to implement new measures to counter abuse in SNAP. USDA Under Sec. for Food and Nutrition Services Kevin Concannon:

“Already in the third quarter of fiscal year of 2012, we have imposed sanctions to fines or disqualifications on more than 574 stores found violating our program rules and we permanently disqualified 1016 stores for trafficking.”

USDA has proposed new rules to cut down on trafficking by stores:

“Under these new rules, the USDA would have the ability to permanently disqualify a retailer who participates in trafficking.”

Getting to the Truth on Gestation Stalls Rather Than ‘Popular’ Opinion

When it comes to the issue of gestation-sow stalls – National Pork Producers Council President R.C. Hunt from Wilson, NC says there’s no evidence that a majority of the populace actually supports their prohibition. He says groups like the Humane Society of the United States are trying to convince people that individual sow housing is inhumane and that the sows in gestation stalls suffer – when the truth is – they don’t. He notes a number of food companies have been coerced into proclaiming they want their pork suppliers to be gestation-stall free. But Hunt says the available supply of pork from housing systems other than stalls doesn’t match the company pronouncements. is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.