WASHINGTON (B)--U.S. Department of Agriculture Chief Economist Keith Collins said Feb. 7 that he does not expect average U.S. grain and oilseed prices to rise significantly for the next 12 to 18 months. He also said loan deficiency payment (LDP) rates for grain farmers would remain low along with the depressed commodity prices.

USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), based on figures from November 1999, released a forecast Monday pegging average corn prices for the 2000 crop year at $1.85 per bushel, up 5 cents from the 1999 average. The average for wheat prices in 2000 was forecast at $2.50 per bushel, even with the 1999 average, and soybeans were forecast averaging $4.25 per bushel in 2000, down from $4.85 in 1999.

Collins said forecasts have not changed since November and stressed he does not believe prices will experience any major hikes for the next 12 to 18 months.

CCC, in its report, predicted the average soybean price would fall to $4.15 in 2001, the average wheat price would rise only slightly to $2.55 per bushel and the average corn price would see a 10-cent rise to $1.95 per bushel.

The average loan deficiency payment rate for U.S. corn will fall in 2000 to 33 cents per bushel, down from 36 cents in 1999, and fall again in 2001 to 26 cents, according to CCC.

The average rate for payments on U.S. wheat also is expected to fall 2 years in a row. CCC predicted the average rate LDP for wheat in 2000 would drop to 59 cents per bushel, down from 64 cents in 1999, and fall again to 46 cents in 2001.

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