WASHINGTON (AP) -- The government has mixed news for the nation's farm economy, predicting sharply higher prices for wheat and continued strong returns for livestock this year but flat to lower prices for soybeans, corn and rice.
In its first projection of crop and livestock prices, the Agriculture Department estimated Thursday that farmers will earn about $3.05 per bushel for wheat this year, up from $2.63 last year, because of shrinking U.S. production and tighter world supplies.
Because of a drought on the southern Plains, this year's harvest of winter wheat is forecast at 1.34 billion bushels, down 14 percent from last year. It would be the smallest crop in 23 years. Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested the next spring.
Fluctuations in grain prices generally have little impact on consumer costs, since the price of raw ingredients generally is a small part of the cost of processed foods. That isn't true of meat prices, however.
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