Ag outlook positive overall

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Purdue agriculture economics professor Chris Hurt (right) speaks with New Palestine farmer Jeff Lantz at last week's 2014 economic outlook seminar at Hancock County's Purdue Extension office in Greenfield. Hurt told area farmers to expect 2014 to be a transition year for the crop sector with prices moderating off the highs of recent years. (Jim Mayfield/Daily Reporter)

GREENFIELD — With agriculture an amalgam of various parts science, mechanics and plain gambler’s intuition, area crop farmers this year might want to hold the cards a bit closer to the vest as the 2014 economic outlook flattens out from recent years, according to a Purdue economist.

“Over the next five to seven years, it looks like we’re looking at a period of moderation,” said Chris Hurt, Purdue professor of agriculture economics during a recent presentation at the Hancock County Purdue Extension office in Greenfield.

Gone are the days when the dismal, drought-strangled 2012 corn crop sold for $8 a bushel and the federally mandated blending of ethanol with gasoline that began driving corn prices in 2005 pushed large chunks of farmland into corn production.

“The growth years for ethanol (production) were from 2006 to 2010,” Hurt said. “Ethanol flatlined at the 2010 crop.”

However, with the government capping gasoline/ethanol blend at 10 percent and a recent proposal by the EPA targeting a nearly 3 billion gallon reduction in biofuels for 2014 alongside a surging supply of corn, prices could fall to between $4 and $4.75 per bushel.

“I think 2014 is a real transition year,” Hurt said. “2014 looks at being possibly the worst of the next three years.”

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