Agricultural economists presented a gloomy picture for US farmers and ranchers at this week’s AFBF convention in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Revenue is projected to be lower for corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton,” said Jim Sullivan, vice-president of Memphis-based consultancy Informa Economics.

Maize producers would see lower yields, while soybean output would expand, leading to a stock overhang and falling prices.

“The biggest change, however, will be a 1m acre increase in soft winter wheat planting,” said Dr Sullivan.

Stocks would increase but, with increasing worldwide wheat production, US exports would decline.

On the livestock side, Scott Brown from the University of Missouri, forecast a 2m head rise in the beef herd this year, putting pressure on prices.

Pig numbers would be static, but increasing sow productivity coupled with falling domestic demand would lead to lower earnings.

All producers would be hit by higher fuel and fertiliser costs, they added.