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USDA ERS Outlook
April 15, 2004

Acreage May Rise Modestly in 2004

Seeded area for dry edible beans (including garbanzo beans) is expected to increase as much as one-tenth in 2004. However, it is likely that the increase in harvested area will be less than that of planted area. In 2003, an unusually large percentage of seeded area was harvested (96 percentthe highest since 1991). It is likely that national acreage abandonment will return to the average of the previous 10 years (9 percent). Assuming average yields, this could have a moderating influence on potential dry bean supplies in the coming year. USDA will release the first survey-based estimate of planting intentions on March 31.


There are strong disincentives at work against dry beans this spring. Key factors arguing against planting dry beans include low, sluggish prices for most dry bean classes, very attractive prices for soybeans, and favorable prices for corn, wheat, and other grains. In addition, domestic dry bean disappearance appears to be under some pressure. There may be confusion and hesitation among some consumers regarding diet and health with all the media and food industry hype surrounding low-carb diets. Per capita dry bean use during the first 4 years of this decade (2000-03) averaged about 3 percent less than during 1990-93.

At this time, the outlook for 2004 dry bean area calls for increased acreage for classes such as navy, black, dark red kidney, cranberry, and pinto beans, with reduced area expected for Great Northern and blackeye beans. Marginal changes (favoring slight gains) are expected for small red, light red kidney, limas, and pink beans. The farm value of the 2003 dry bean crop was estimated to be down 20 percent to $412 million, as output fell 25 percent and the season average price for all dry beans was estimated to have risen just 4 percent to $17.80/cwt.


North Dakota growers received 29 percent of U.S. crop value with $119 milliondown 22 percent from a year ago. Nebraskas dry bean crop was valued 17 percent lower at $54 million. California was third largest in terms of dry bean crop value at $49 million17 percent of the national total.


Export Volume Down 14 Percent

With lower pinto, navy and red kidney volume, U.S. dry bean exports dropped 14 percent from a year earlier during September to December 2003. Black and Great

Northern volume was up. Although dry bean volume shipped to Mexico was about even and sales to Japan were up 21 percent, movement to the United Kingdom

(down 48 percent) and Canada (down 12 percent) fell.




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