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USDA is projecting farm sector profits this year to drop from last year’s record. The latest forecast has producers generating just over $150.5 billion in net cash income. That is down about 21% relative to last year, which was a record-high income year.
Corn, soybeans, fruits and vegetables are all forecast to go down, according to Spiro Stefanou, administrator of USDA’s Economic Research Service.
“Crop cash receipts are going to go down nearly $9 billion,” Stefanou said. “We’re looking at soybeans going down the most by about 10.6%, followed by corn looking at a drop of 7.1%, nearly 5% for fruits, about a 3% drop for vegetables, and melons are going to hit about an 11% drop.”
Only wheat will see an increase in receipts, but by less than 1%. Livestock receipts are expected to drop by 5.7%, led by a decline in dairy sales.
Meanwhile, production expenses are expected to go up 11% this year.
“Interest expenses are going up 22.4%,” Stefanou said. “Livestock and poultry purchases are expected to go up nearly 14%. And that’s actually the biggest dollar increase. Labor costs are going up as well.”
USDA projects possible small declines for fertilizer, fuel and feed costs.
However, USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer said this new forecast is not a farm income disaster at all.
“Yes, it is declining relative to last year. Yes, receipts are falling. Yes, government payments are falling. Yes, input prices continue to rise,” Meyer said. “But it’s still better than the long run average farm income year.”
Meyer said this is not a case of asking if the cup is half full or half empty, but that it is three quarters full, noting things are still quite good for farm income across the country.
“Producer margins may be squeezed, so we’re tightening the belt here a little bit,” Meyer said. “We’ve still got plenty of room.”
Meyer said the farm sector will make it through the year in pretty good shape.
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