Vice President, Knowledge Exchange
Dan Kowalski is an economist and vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. In that role, he leads a team of economists that produces research for the agricultural and infrastructure industries that CoBank serves. He also provides commentary on how the U.S. and global economies affect rural America.
Prior to joining CoBank in 2011, Mr. Kowalski worked with an economics consulting firm, providing research and advisory services to the food and agribusiness industries. Mr. Kowalski holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Pennsylvania State University.
The long-awaited period of pent-up, exuberant demand is here. And for all the benefits to businesses and consumers, bumps are unavoidable – labor shortages, price inflation, supply chain disruptions, and uncertainty about what a new steady-state economy will look like. They loom large, even as we celebrate a return to normalcy.
Anticipation of a return to normal is in the air. But for the economy and rural industries, there will be no going back to pre-COVID conditions.
2021 has quickly altered the political and market landscape. And optimism, particularly about the second half of the year, is rising. But to get there, all of us must muddle through for a few months more.
The coronavirus pandemic has now impacted all four quarters of 2020, and seemingly every aspect of life and business.
Over the past four months, every rural industry has grappled with how to adjust its business to remain relevant and sustainable in the pandemic. Agricultural supply chains have been massively disrupted and lost revenue. Water and power suppliers have adapted as commercial and industrial customers went dark and demand shifted to residential customers. And the communications industry is seizing a moment when home broadband access has become vividly essential, to help expand access to everyone, everywhere.
The beginning of a new quarter finds us in unparalleled times – a pandemic ravaging the world, the U.S. economy in shutdown, millions of Americans out of work, and financial markets in turmoil.
Recent studies show that 68 percent of Americans have recently bought organic food items and 44 percent have recently bought non-GMO labeled food. So what impact are these trends in food consumption having on U.S. production agriculture?
The speed of the economic recovery will largely hinge on the availability, dissemination and reach of COVID-19 vaccines, pushing the expected burst of pent-up consumer demand into the latter half of 2021, according to a comprehensive year-ahead outlook report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange division.
The U.S. economy is still performing well by most key measures. However, consumers, investors, companies and other market participants have become more wary about the near-term future with seemingly good reason.
U.S. cotton acreage will be up in 2018, but nowhere is that increase more transformative than in the Southwest. Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas are projected to increase planted area by 40 percent, 16 percent, and 6 percent, respectively.
Currencies have been all the buzz of late. China’s decision to reduce support for the yuan in early August sent markets into a tailspin and triggered some central banks in Asia and Oceania to cut interest rates. Markets and policy makers feared that a currency war was suddenly afoot, and China’s devaluation could stoke a destabilizing race to the bottom in global currencies and interest rates.
Part of the rural labor shortage story is best told through statistics and trends. But to gain a more full picture of how labor challenges are affecting businesses, it is best to hear directly from those meeting the challenges head on.
Agricultural cooperatives have been in a steady state of consolidation for decades. But despite the decline in the number of cooperatives, the influence of co‑ops in rural America is not shrinking.
The U.S. rural economy will continue to face headwinds in 2020 and is expected to underperform relative to the economy of urban America.
The fourth quarter is ending with much more optimism on trade and the economy compared to how it began.
Uncertainty over trade policy, weather and African Swine Fever dominated agricultural markets last quarter.
Global economic growth continues to slide, as tariffs drag on global trade and manufacturing.
U.S. agriculture is poised for serious challenges for the remainder of 2019.
The escalating trade war with China is the leading risk for U.S. agriculture. Retaliatory actions taken by China and other trading partners have raised concerns of long lasting effects on agricultural supply chains.
The risk of an escalating trade war is the greatest threat to the U.S. and agricultural economies in the near term. Nearly 70 percent of U.S. agricultural exports are sold to destinations that are under active negotiations or embroiled in trade disputes.
An impending trade war, continued large global supplies, and negotiations over a new farm bill and tax extenders continue to present challenges for U.S. agriculture and farmer cooperatives. Reduced harvests in Argentina and potential droughts in some parts of the U.S. have steadied grain and oilseed market prices but there remains a potential for significant volatility.