Food Supply Stays Tight as Disappointing U.S. Harvest Adds to Global Challenges

A lackluster U.S. harvest this year is setting back efforts to relieve a global food supply that has been constrained by Russia’s war in Ukraine, agriculture-industry executives said.

Senior executives from companies such as Bayer AG, BAYRY 0.99%▲ Corteva Inc., CTVA 0.11%▲ Archer Daniels Midland Co. ADM 3.02%▲ and Bunge Ltd. BG 2.01%▲ said worldwide crop supplies remain tight, and some said at least two more years of good harvests in North and South America are needed to ease the pressure. Persistent drought conditions in the U.S. and agricultural countries in South America, along with uncertainty over crop production in Ukraine, are making that harder, they said.

“When it comes to the global food-supply situation, I think things are going to continue to be tight for the time being,” said Werner Baumann, Bayer’s chief executive.

High temperatures this summer exacerbated drought conditions in the U.S. West and the country’s Great Plains. Intense heat in states such as Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma set in as corn crops were pollinating in many parts of the Grain Belt, when the plants require the most water. Some corn crops were also planted late this year after a wet spring, causing some yield loss, according to agriculture analysts.

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Sept. 12 lowered its nationwide corn-production estimate to 13.9 billion bushels, 3% lower than its August projection, and 8% below 2021’s total. Soybean-production estimates this month were down 3% from a record projection in August, and down slightly from a year earlier. Agriculture advisory firm Professional Farmers of America Inc. last month cut its outlook for corn yields by 13% in Nebraska and 22% in South Dakota, compared with last year.

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