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Interest rates on many types of agricultural loans in the nation’s midsection were already headed lower before the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FMOC) adjusted its benchmark lending rate lower in late July. In the first reduction since 2008, the FMOC dropped the rate to 2% from 2.25%, or 25 basis points from the previous level, and also left the door open to future cuts in 2019.

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The USDA’s latest milk production forecasts for both 2019 and 2020 were reduced, based on expectations of a smaller dairy herd and slower growth in milk per cow. As a result, price projections were increased slightly for 2019, with further improvement in 2020, based on USDA’s monthly World Ag Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, released Aug. 12.

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Last year brought no new entries to Rabobank’s list of the 2019 “Global Dairy Top 20” companies, although there was some reshuffling due to lower commodity prices, adverse weather in some key exporting regions and shifts in currency strength. Mergers and acquisitions were again the avenue for growth, according to the report’s authors, Rabobank dairy analyst Saskia van Battum and global dairy strategist Mary Ledman.

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