With the start of the new marketing year only a week away, the process of monitoring corn consumption and corn consumption prospects is underway.According to Darrel Good, a University of Illinois agricultural economist, not much is known about consumption prospects as the ongoing process of updating expectations begins.“In the case of feed and residual use of corn, the USDA’s quarterly Grain Stocks reports are the only source of data on actual consumption,” Good said.The Sept. 1, 2014, corn stocks estimate to be released on Sept. 30 will allow the calculation of the magnitude of feed and residual use of corn for the final quarter of the 2013-14 marketing year and will provide some guidance for potential use during the year ahead. Expectations of feed use for the year will be derived primarily from weekly, monthly, and quarterly U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports of livestock and poultry inventories.“Feed use of corn will not receive much support from the beef sector. The liquidation of the cow herd and the smaller calf crops of the past few years mean there are fewer cattle available for feeding, and that deficit will continue for an extended period. The USDA reported that for feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more, there were 2 percent fewer cattle on feed as of August 1 this year than on August 1 last year. Seven percent fewer cattle were placed on feed during July 2014 than during July 2013,” Good said.He said the poultry and dairy sectors appear to be experiencing some very modest expansion. The USDA reported that the number of broiler chicks placed for meat production during the two weeks ended August 16 was up 2 and 1 percent, respectively, compared to placements of a year earlier.“Two weeks do not constitute a trend, so that placement will continue to be followed closely to determine if expansion is actually underway,” Good said.The average number of layers has been running 1 to 2 percent above those of a year ago each month this year. The USDA also reported that milk cow numbers in 23 selected states were up about 1 percent in July.According to Good, the most uncertainty about livestock production comes from the hog sector. The USDA reported that the June 1 inventory of market hogs was 5 percent smaller than the inventory of a year earlier, but producers expected to increase the number of sows farrowed by 4 percent in the June-September quarter. Production prospects continue to be clouded by the ongoing impact of the porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus on the number of pigs actually weaned.The USDA’s monthly Livestock Slaughter report showed a 7 percent year-over-year decline in hog slaughter in July. That decline was partially offset by a 5 percent increase in average slaughter weight. The USDA’s Hogs and Pigs report to be released on Sept. 26 will provide additional information about pork production prospects during the 2014-15 corn marketing year. Good said that because feed consumption of corn includes an unknown and sometimes surprising residual component, only the quarterly stocks estimates will provide a measure of actual disappearance.Sales of U.S. corn for export during the 2014-15 marketing year were reported at 365 million bushels as of August 14. Sales are about 50 million bushels smaller than those of a year ago, but about 60 million bushels larger than the average for the years 2008 through 2012, Good said. He explained that last year, China had purchased 117 million bushels of U.S corn, compared with essentially none this year. Sales to unknown destinations are also down about 40 million bushels.On the other hand, sales to Japan and South American destinations are larger than those of a year ago. Total export sales as of August 14 accounted for 21 percent of the USDA’s projection of total marketing-year exports, about the same as sales of a year earlier.“The level of export sales to date is in line with USDA’s projection of exports for the year,” Good said. “However, the seasonal pattern of sales varies from year to year so that it is not yet known whether the current level of sales reflects only timing decisions or is indicative of total export potential.“There are some early signs that corn consumption during the year ahead will increase modestly in response to lower prices,” Good concluded. “However, that response is not yet large enough to offset the impact of the market expectation of an even larger corn crop than was forecast by USDA two weeks ago. Corn prices are expected to stay under some pressure at least through the USDA’s Sept. 11 Crop Production report. The size of the corn crop forecast in that report will be important in determining where the low may be in the corn market,” he said.