ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's on to a floor vote in the U.S. Senate for the Republican tax cut plan. After yesterday's vote in the Senate Budget Committee to move the bill forward, farm groups are looking at what it means for rural America. One of the biggest concerns all along has been the call to eliminate Section 199 of the tax code. Eliminating that Section would cost rural America $2 billion in lost income from Cooperatives' ability to pass along deductions to farmers. Both the House and Senate bills call for elimination of Section 199. But in a compromise move in the Senate bill, there is a 17.4% tax deduction on pass through income from the coop to the farmers. That means farmers would receive the full benefit of the tax deduction under patronage refunds since there would be no provision that would let the cooperatives benefit from retaining some or all of the deduction. According to analysis done by DTN, under that revised provision, farmers in the upper income bracket would be much better off than farmers in lower income brackets.
This year's crop isn't completely harvested yet but USDA economists have already made their projections for next year's cropping season. They are forecasting U.S. farmers will plant 91 million acres of both corn and soybeans next spring. And they also say corn yields will average 173.5 bushels per acre for a total yield of 14.52 billion bushels. That would be about 58 million bushels less than this year's expected yields. They also expect corn prices for the 2018-2019 marketing year to average $3.30 a bushel-about a dime higher than this year. Their predictions for soybean for next year call for an average yield of 48.4 bushels per acre and a total crop of 4.36 billion bushels-down about 65 million bushels from this year. They also predict soybean prices next year will average $9.30 a bushel-down about 17 cents from this year. As for wheat, these new USDA projections say acreage will fall next year to 45 million-about 1 million less than this year. But those economists expect average yields to be up next year by just over a bushel to an average of 47.4 bushels per acre. Wheat prices next year are projected to be $4.60 a bushel-about the same as this year's price.
Those prices in the future will depend a lot on how much of our production we sell in the export markets. And the competition there isn't going away. Brazil is our biggest competitor when it comes to corn and soybean sales and their production capacity seems limitless. A new report from Texas A & M University shows Brazil has about 100 million acres in grazing land that could be converted into crop land. And the study adds that Brazilian farmers have access to plenty of capital if and when they decide to crop more of those acres.
A 6th grader from Altoona is one of three finalists from around the country to be involved in the upcoming Superbowl in the Twin Cities. Isabella Bauer is in the running to become the next NFL Play 60 Super Kid. If Isabella does get selected, she will be on the field to present the game ball to the referee before the game. But she's going to need some help. The winner will be selected based on the quality of a video they submit and total online votes. To vote for Isabella go to superkid.nflrush.com. Voting ends on December 5th.