Corn is no longer king on Todd Wachtel’s 5,500-acre farm in Illinois. After prices fell to a three-year low in January, he will cut planting by 20 percent in 2014 and devote half his land to soybeans, which are cheaper to grow and just as profitable for the first time in four years.
Almost every piglet born on Craig Rowles’ hog farms near Carroll, Iowa, died from the virus that swept through his herds in November, causing $462,000 of lost revenue in the first month of the outbreak. By the end of February, he expects to lose 15,000 animals, or 10 percent of annual sales.
Din Tai Fung, a restaurant in Shanghai’s Xintiandi district, is famous for its steamed pork dumplings. The pigs that keep those dumplings on the table are fattened with corn -- much of it imported from the U.S.
Pickup trucks lined a stretch of gravel road where 150 farmers mingled between 7-foot tall cornstalks and shimmering soybeans to see which of their wealthy brethren would bid on a swath of Iowa’s richest cropland. This was a farm -- table-flat and 314 acres -- so coveted that it drew three times the usual land-sale crowd.
U.S. hog farmers are making money for the first time in a year after prices surged to a two-decade seasonal high and feed costs fell, spurring them to expand herds that will yield the most pork on record.
Drive across America’s farm country -- across the vast plains of Kansas, across the prairies of North Dakota, and then out onto the parched, treeless expanse of the inland Northwest -- and the waves of grain can seem endless.
Grain elevators and milk processors are testing for a corn toxin that can be fatal to livestock and cause cancer in humans after the worst Midwest drought in 56 years spurred an increased risk of contamination.