WSJ US BusinessSurging Grain Prices Fuel Surprise Farm Recovery

January 22, 20210
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A crop glut that battered American farmers is subsiding, fueling an unexpected recovery in the U.S. Farm Belt following a yearslong agricultural recession.

Prices for corn, soybeans and wheat have soared to their highest levels in more than six years as dry weather and strong export demand from China drain U.S. stockpiles.

The rising commodity prices are rippling through the food chain, helping drive a sharp increase in U.S. farm income and lifting the prospects for a swath of rural businesses, from grain traders to equipment manufacturers and fertilizer suppliers.

At the same time, the revival in the grain sector is boosting costs and pressuring profit margins for producers of food and fuel that soak up vast quantities of U.S. corn and soybeans each year, and likely will drive increases in food prices for consumers, some food executives say.

It is a dramatic reversal from recent years in which bumper harvests swelled U.S. grain supplies, pushing prices lower and slashing farmers’ incomes. A wave of bankruptcies swept Midwestern farms, followed by trade disputes and the coronavirus pandemic, which deepened farmers’ struggles.

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