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Ag Forecast to provide Georgia farmers outlook for upcoming season By Merritt Melancon, Clint Thompson

University of Georgia agricultural experts will give a forecast of agriculture in the coming year at a series of events set across the state in January. The new year looks bright for Georgia livestock producers, but not for many row crop farmers.

Georgia Ag Forecast is an annual seminar series that informs Georgia producers and industry leaders about the market outlooks for different commodities.

Economists from the University of Georgia Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development (CAED) and UGA Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics will share their views about future markets for such commodities as cotton, peanuts, corn and livestock.

The annual seminar series will be held Jan. 14-23 in Gainesville, Cartersville, Bainbridge, Lyons, Tifton and Macon.

Extension livestock economists will present Georgia cattlemen with encouraging news.

“I think, in 2015, cattlemen will be looking at pretty similar prices to what they had this past year, depending on when they sold. Last year we started off the year somewhere around $1.80 per pound for a 500-pound calf. That market today is almost $2.75. You’ve seen almost a $1 increase in a year,” said Curt Lacy, the Extension livestock economist based on the UGA campus in Tifton.

Farmers who sold their stock in January or February of 2014 are going to receive a much better price this year, he said.

Lacy expects prices to remain high, which is good news for cattlemen in Miller, Colquitt and Early counties. Those three south Georgia counties finished in the top 10 in farm gate values for beef cow production in 2013, according to the UGA CAED, joining Morgan, Madison, Carroll, Wilkes, Franklin, Jackson and Coffee counties.

“I think, in general, this is about where we’re going to be for the next year or two,” Lacy said.

While cattlemen can expect good news at this year’s Ag Forecast events, row crop farmers will get disappointing news. Cotton prices are hovering at 60 cents per pound, peanuts are $400 per ton and corn prices are around $4.10 per bushel. Those are discouraging figures for Georgia farmers who are planning next year’s crops.

“It’s not as rosy a forecast for row crops as we’ve had in years past,” said UGA Extension agricultural economist Nathan Smith.

For peanut growers, the news is especially grim as prices could fall even more as acreage is expected to increase in 2015, Smith said. “This year is more of a getting-by year, in terms of cash flow. The outlook isn’t as bright for row crops,” he said.

Nearly 1,000 business people, producers and community leaders attended the seminars in 2014.

“The main objective of the Ag Forecast seminar series is to provide Georgia producers and agribusiness leaders with information on where we think the industry is headed in the upcoming year,” said Kent Wolfe, director of the UGA CAED. “It helps farmers plan what they’re going to plant in the next year, but it’s also good for bankers and others who do business with farmers or who will be impacted by the farm economy.”

The Georgia Ag Forecast seminar series is organized by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. This series is made possible through the Georgia Farm Bureau Land Grant University Lecture Series Endowment and is supported by the Georgia Department of Agriculture and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.

For more information or to register for the 2015 Ag Forecast series, see www.georgiaagforecast.com, follow @UGA_CollegeofAg on Twitter or search for #agforecast on social media.

(Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Clint Thompson is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences based in Tifton.)

Dug, undug peanuts
Dug, undug peanuts

There were almost 800,000 acres of peanuts grown in Georgia in 2015.

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There were almost 800,000 acres of peanuts grown in Georgia in 2015. Download Image 0002 3C7C
Cotton in trailer
Cotton in trailer

Cotton is dumped into a trailer at the Gibbs Farm in Tifton on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013.

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Beef cattle
Beef cattle

Beef cattle graze in a pasture at the University of Georgia Mountain Research and Education Center in Blairsville, Ga.

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