Commodities & Metals

Farm Price Slide Continued in January

Corn Field
Source: Thinkstock
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its preliminary report on January farm prices Friday afternoon. The all-products price index fell 2% month-over-month to 99, with the crop production index unchanged and the livestock production index down 4%. The January prices-received index is down 1 point from December 2014. The index uses prices from 2011 as its base value (100).

The USDA noted January’s lower prices received for milk, hogs and calves offset higher prices for lettuce, broilers, and broccoli. Prices paid by farmers in the month fell to 109, 2 index points lower compared with December 2014.

According to a report earlier this week, hedge funds are taking long positions on some ag commodities and the spread is the largest since March of 2014. Bets on beef and hogs, however, remain tilted slightly to a bearish position.

The price farmers received for livestock is 6% higher than it was a year ago and the price for meat animals is 15% higher. The January hog price is down $6.90 per hundredweight since December, and down $3.80 compared with January 2014. Beef prices are up $26 per hundredweight compared with the January 2014 price and unchanged compared with December 2014.

Both corn and wheat prices remain significantly lower than they were a year ago, with year-over-year all-wheat prices down $0.51 a bushel at $6.14 and feed corn down $0.61 at $3.81 a bushel.

Dairy prices are down 13% month-over-month and down 25% year-over-year. Market egg prices dropped $0.59 per dozen compared with December prices to $1.07 a dozen. A dozen eggs costs 16.4 cents more than it did in January 2014, a 16% increase.

The prices farmers paid for feeder pigs fell $17 to $200 per hundredweight in January. Feeder cattle prices fell $18 per hundredweight to $232 in January.

Here is how some agriculture-related ETFs are trading today:

The Market Vectors Agribusiness ETF (NYSEMKT: MOO) traded up fractionally at $55.71 in a 52-week range of $49.21 to $56.32.

The PowerShares DB Agriculture fund (NYSEMKT: DBA) traded up about 0.5% at $23.075 in a 52-week range of $22.76 to $29.41.

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