Stocks Drop: Is Ag Economy at Risk?

AgriBusiness 11-12
Stocks fall Monday ( FJM )

The U.S. stock market starting the week in a free fall. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping some 600 points Monday. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Index declining significantly as well. Crude oil prices are down and the dollar index is on the rise along with interest rates. 

"Are we you know are we going to see a recession?" asks Tyne Morgan in a recent interview with University of Missouri Agricultural Economist Scott Brown at the Farm Journal's MILK Business Conference.

"I don't see too many signs yet that make me too concerned here in the very short run," says Brown. "In fact, we continue to see unemployment rates at the lowest levels in decades." 

Brown, the director of strategic partnerships for the University of Missouri's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) says wage growth is also on the rise.

"Whether wage rates can continue to expand as we move forward I think is a little less important than just getting continued increases in job numbers," says Brown. "I think that is going to be super important to continue into 2019."

Brown says from an agricultural perspective there are several "canaries" to be watching.  

"I think number one you can look at beef," says Brown. "All of a sudden if consumers start buying [less] because they have less money in their pockets that could be really harmful to the beef industry."

Brown that's especially true as long as supplies remain large. Pork is in a similar position. 

"We do not need a domestic economy that slows down when we want to move record amounts of pork potentially to these domestic markets," says Brown. "It seems like with beef and with pork it's been the domestic markets that have been so strong [in helping] prices."

Brown says that need to continue in order for protein prices to remain at current levels.