Fresh Projections for the Next Marketing Year

By Lee L. Schulz and Chad Hart


USDA always adds its outlook for the next marketing year with the May World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. The timing allows USDA analysts to see the development of supply and demand changes in the current marketing year and incorporate those trends, along with information on crop planting progress and weather conditions, into the forecasts for the next marketing year. Given the differential timing of the marketing years between crops and livestock, the new projections cover the 2023 marketing year for livestock (which basically aligns with the calendar year) and the 2022 marketing year for crops (which for Iowa crops, starts in September with the coming harvest). Drought conditions in the western United States, the spread of avian influenza, the planting delays this spring, the continuation of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the volatility in the energy markets, and the continuation of supply chain issues, among other factors, influence these projections. With this myriad of confounding factors shaping the ag markets, these projections will likely change significantly over the coming months, but these estimates provide us the best guess on what the future holds given what we know today.

Table 1. USDA’s Livestock Projections
Source: USDA-WAOB.
 20222023Change from 2022 to 2023
 ForecastChange from AprilForecast 
Production (Billion Pounds)
      Total Meat106.380.21105.34-1.04
Prices ($ per Cwt.)
Prices (Cents per Pound)


For livestock (table 1), the 2022 marketing year will break a string of record total meat production. While broilers continue to set production records, the other meat sectors are seeing a pullback in production this year. The turkey industry is wrestling with the losses from avian influenza. The beef industry has seen a surge in production during the first half of the year, as the drought spurs some liquidation with higher-than-normal cow culling, but the smaller herd will also result in less beef in the second half of the year. The pork industry has also seen a reduction in animal numbers. The smaller meat supplies and strong demand have led to higher meat prices across the board.

For 2023, the general trend is still for lower meat production, but beef is driving that outlook—turkey is expected to rebound from avian influenza, pork is projected to see modest growth, and broilers continue to increase. However, the combined growth from turkey, pork, and broilers is more than offset by the fall in beef production, as the market will feel the major impact of the cattle liquidation next year. USDA projects livestock prices will move in the opposite direction, with cattle prices rising and hog, broiler, and turkey prices falling. Compared to 2021 prices, cattle prices are projected to be 25% higher, hog prices are 5% higher, broiler prices are up 47%, and turkey is up 12%. Expect lower meat exports with the declining meat supplies—beef exports are forecast to fall below 3 billion pounds, declining by roughly 425 million pounds, and pork exports are set to decline by 71 million pounds. Broiler and turkey exports are expected to rise by 112 million pounds.

On the crop side, the May report is usually based on the acreage estimates from the March Prospective Plantings report and the trend yield released at the Ag Outlook Forum in February. However, the delays in planting pushed USDA to deviate partially from that pattern. While the corn acreage estimate remains at the March number, USDA has adjusted the projected national corn yield downward (table 2). At the Ag Outlook Forum in February, USDA announced a weather-adjusted trend yield of 181 bushels per acre for corn. In May, the yield estimate was lowered to 177 bushels per acre based on the significant delays seen in planting across the nation, which were mainly driven by wet conditions in the Corn Belt and Northern Plains despite the continuing drought in the western United States. Since 1980, USDA has only recorded four years with slower planting progress, 1983, 1984, 1993, and 2013. In all four of those years, the final national yield fell below trend. Given this data and the potential for more precipitation throughout the rest of the month, USDA made the early adjustment to corn yields. This change in yield takes roughly 325 million bushels off of expected production. The combined drop in the acreage and yield translates to an expected 655 million bushel drop in corn production year-over-year. To balance with the smaller projected crop, corn usage is also expected to fall. Comparing the 2022 estimates to the 2021 estimates, feed and residual usage is down 275 million bushels and exports are off by 100 million bushels, while ethanol usage is steady. While the Russia-Ukraine war may create more opportunities for exports, the impact of higher prices will likely lead to fewer exports. The increase in energy prices has supported and will continue to support ethanol production. The price run that started in the summer of 2020 continues to pressure USDA to raise its season-average price estimates. For the 2021 crop, the current season-average price estimate is $5.90/bushel, up $.45 over the past three months. However, the sharpest price increase is for the 2022 crop—at the Ag Outlook Forum, the estimate was $5/bushel, now, it’s $6.75/bushel, with the futures market pointing even higher.

Table 2. Corn Supply and Use
Source: USDA-WAOB.
  EstimateChange from AprilForecast Change from 2021 to 2022 
Area Planted(mil. acres) -3.9 
Yield(bu./acre)177.00.0177.0 0.0 
Production(mil. bu.)15,115014,460 -655 
Beg. Stocks(mil. bu.)1,23501,440 205 
Imports(mil. bu.)25025 0 
Total Supply(mil. bu.)16,375015,925 -450 
Feed & Residual(mil. bu.)5,62505,350 -275 
Ethanol(mil. bu.)5,37505,375 0 
Food, Seed, & Other(mil. bu.)1,43501,440 5 
Exports(mil. bu.)2,50002,400 -100 
Total Use(mil. bu.)14,935014,565 -370 
Ending Stocks(mil. bu.)1,44001,360 -80 
Season-Average Price($/bu.)5.900.106.75 0.85 


With soybeans, USDA held to the normal pattern with the yield remaining at the Ag Outlook Forum level of 51.5 bushels/acre (table 3). The soggy conditions also delayed soybean planting, but the gap is less pronounced. The five most similar years in terms of planting progress up to this point are: 2002, 2003, 2007, 2009, and 2014. The national yield was below trend in three of those years and above in two, providing USDA some support to stay with their trend yield. With the projected increased acreage to soybeans as farmers seek to reduce the impact of high fertilizer costs, soybean production is set to exceed 4.6 billion bushels. The growth in production parallels the growth in soybean usage. Exports from the 2021 crop continue to exceed expectations, leading to smaller ending stocks. While the 2021/22 season-average price estimate has not moved from $13.25/bushel over the past few months, the price is $2.45/bushel higher than the previous year. For the 2022 soybean crop, projected usage remains strong. Compared to 2021, domestic crush is up 40 million bushels and exports are up 60 million bushels. The export growth is somewhat surprising given the jump to $14.40/bushel for the season-average price estimate for 2022. However, the limited supplies of vegetable oils, especially sunflower oil from Ukraine, are supporting additional exports from the United States. Domestic crush is growing as interest in renewable diesel has led to significant increases in soybean oil prices, another case of higher energy prices stimulating increased crop demand.

Table 3. Soybean Supply and Use
Source: USDA-WAOB.
  EstimateChange from AprilForecast Change from 2021 to 2022 
Area Planted(mil. acres) 3.8 
Yield(bu./acre) 0.1 
Production(mil. bu.)4,43504,640 205 
Beg. Stocks(mil. bu.)2570235 -22 
Imports(mil. bu.)15015 0 
Total Supply(mil. bu.)4,70704,890 183 
Crush(mil. bu.)2,21502,255 40 
Seed & Residual(mil. bu.)1170125 8 
Exports(mil. bu.)2,140252,200 60 
Total Use(mil. bu.)4,472254,580 108 
Ending Stocks(mil. bu.)235-25310 75 
Season-Average Price($/bu.)13.250.0014.40 1.15 


Overall, the outlook for US agriculture over the next year is for higher prices, but with mixed signals on production. While farm and ranch revenues will likely rise, farm and ranch costs are rising as well. The higher crop prices directly translate into higher feed costs for the livestock sector. Fertilizer and ag chemical supplies have been constrained due to supply chain issues and geopolitical events, leading to larger crop production costs, and land values have risen sizably over the past year. Agriculture has not been immune to inflationary pressures—in 2021, ag prices rose faster than costs, and, in 2022, costs are catching up. Thus, the higher prices may not lead to greater profits in agriculture.

Suggested citation:

Schulz, L. and C. Hart. 2022. "Fresh Projections for the Next Marketing Year." Agricultural Policy Review, Spring 2022. Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University. Available at