On Thursday, Chrysler, which has received more than $7 billion in federal aid, announced it will drop a quarter of its 3,200 dealers by June 9th.
One day later, General Motors, which has accepted $15.4 billion in taxpayer assistance, notified 1,100 of its U.S. dealers that their franchise agreements also would not be renewed. Though many dealers say they'll fight the decisions in court, the cuts are expected to cost thousands of jobs, and ripple through the broader economy.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported that retail sales fell 0.4 percent in April casting doubt on whether consumers are regaining their desire to spend.
And the Labor Department announced the number of new people filing for unemployment rose sharply last week.
Investors reacted bearishly to the week's developments and the Dow Jones Industrials posted a weekly loss of more than 300 points.
America's farmers, though certainly not immune to economic realities driving Wall Street, are more likely to be influenced by prices they receive for their goods. And this week's Supply and Demand Report revealed the markets are being influenced by a variety of factors.
Drought in the American plains is predicted to reduce wheat yields dramatically. At just over 2 billion bushels, U.S. wheat farmers are expected to harvest a crop 20 percent smaller than last year. With fewer bushels to go around exports are projected to drop 11 percent and average farm prices are estimated to be between $4.70 and $5.70 per bushel.
Though planting is way behind schedule in some regions, corn production is still projected to be the second highest on record at 12.1 billion bushels. Demand from the U.S. ethanol industry is predicted to consume one-third of the nation's corn crop. Despite the increase for biofuels exports are predicted to remain strong and climb by nine percent over last year. Nevertheless, U.S. corn ending stocks are on track to be down nearly 30 percent with seasonally adjusted prices at $3.70 to $4.50 per bushel.
With more acres expected to be planted in soybeans this season, the crop is predicted to hit a record 3.2 billion bushels. Reduced supplies due to poor weather in South America and increased Chinese demand are helping push export estimates to a record 1.26 billion bushels. USDA analysts are putting soybean prices between $8.45 and $10.45 per bushel.