Ag Update: 2021 Projections Largely Encouraging for Farmers

The U.S. could plant 92 million acres of corn, 90 million acres of soybeans, and 45 million acres of wheat in 2021, according to data presented at USDA’s Outlook Forum.

That would represent an increase of corn by 1.2 million acres—the largest corn acreage plantings since 2016—and soybeans by 6.9 million acres, only slightly lower than the record of 90.2 million set in 2017, reported Forbes (Feb. 22).

Prices for corn, soybeans, and wheat have jumped to their highest levels in over six years due to largely dry weather and strong export demand from China. The Chinese purchases are a turnaround from two years ago, when the country stopped buying from American stockpiles during the trade war. Soybean stocks stood at a record 909 million bushes, while the latest USDA forecast calls for those supplies to drop to 140 million bushels.


U.S. cattle and calves on feed for the slaughter market totaled 12.1 million head on Feb. 1, up 1% from a year prior, according to USDA. The total represented the highest Feb. 1 inventory since the reporting series began in 1996.

During January, placements in feedlots totaled 2.02 million head, 3% above 2020. Net placements were 1.96 million head.

Meanwhile, cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the U.S. for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head represented 81.4% of all cattle and calves on feed in the U.S. on Jan. 1—comparable to the 81.6% on Jan. 1, 2020.

Marketings of fed cattle for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head during 2020 represented 87.1% of total cattle marketed from all feedlots in the U.S., up slightly from 87.0% during 2019.


U.S. poultry certified wholesome during January totaled 4.1 billion-lbs., down 9% from January 2020, according to USDA. The December 2020 revised certified total, at 4.2 billion-lbs., was up 2% from December 2019.

The preliminary total live weight of all federally inspected poultry during January 2021 was 5.42 billion-lbs., down 9% from 5.99 billion-lbs. a year ago. Young chickens inspected totaled 4.79 billion-lbs., down 9% from January 2020.

Mature chickens, at 59.9 million-lbs., were down 12% from the previous year. Turkey inspections totaled 560 million-lbs., down 13% from a year ago. Ducks totaled 13.4 million-lbs., down 25% from last year.