Agricultural Commodities in the US: What Causes Them to Change?



Agricultural commodities

Agriculture accounts for about 1.1% of the US GDP (gross domestic product) contribution. Principal crops grown in the US include corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, barley, oats, rye, rice, peanuts, sunflowers, cotton, potatoes, millet, edible beans, canola, tobacco, sugarcane, and hay. In the US, about 326 million acres were used to plant these principal crops in 2014. It’s important to note that 309 million acres were harvested—a 95% output. Livestock farming—mainly cattle, hog, and poultry farming—is also included in the agriculture sector.

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Price change in commodities

There are several factors that can impact agriculture commodity prices. These include, but aren’t limited to weather conditions, global demand, plantings, global production, and government programs. Weather usually has the most significant impact on the prices of agricultural commodities.

Who’s impacted?

Usually a price change in an agriculture commodity impacts everyone who’s dependent on the commodity. These include:

  • agricultural commodity processing companies like Archer Daniels (ADM), Bunge (BG), The Andersons (ANDE), Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus Group
  • fertilizer companies like Potash (POT) and Mosaic (MOS)
  • meat processing companies like Pilgrim’s Pride (PPC) and Tyson Foods (TSN)—they use corn and soybean as feed for livestock

The VanEck Vectors Agribusiness ETF (MOO) holds about 6.6% of Archer Daniels and 3.2% of Bunge.

In this series, we’ll cover the four most important agriculture commodities in the US—corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum. We’ll look at the changes in prices, plantation, and harvest information for each crop. We’ll also look at uses for these commodities and the latest updates on exports.


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