Despite its fearsome reputation, only a comparative handful of farm households are obliged to file a federal estate-tax return and most of them will not pay the government any money, said USDA economists. Large tax exemptions — $11.58 million per person in 2020 — shield most estates from tax liability.
Although China has yet to fulfill its "phase one" promises of mammoth purchases of U.S. farm exports, "the fact is, they need us," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilscak during a digital news conference. He added that, with China back in the U.S. market, commodity prices are high enough that, "I'm not sure there's necessarily a need for any trade-related assistance [to farmers] at this point."
In agricultural lore, the absentee landlord is often a resented figure, an outsider who reaps an income from the labor of the farmer and takes away the profits rather than investing in the local community. The modern-day situation is more nuanced, says a USDA study which finds that, for the most part, "non-operating landlords" (NOLS) live fairly close to their property.
U.S. ethanol production plunged 13 percent last year due to the pandemic, costing the industry around $4 billion in sales. But it may recover fully by 2023, on the strength of larger exports and rising domestic use of higher blends of ethanol into gasoline, said the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute.
Heartened by sharp increases in commodity prices, farmers and ranchers across the Midwest and Plains are paying off bank loans and opening their wallets for big-ticket purchases, said a report from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.
Farm income and land values surged in the closing months of 2020, lifted by higher commodity prices and large federal payments, according to farm lenders across the Midwest and Plains. With the commodity rally expected to persist, the farm economy was in its best shape in years, said the …
U.S. farm income will be a strong $111.4 billion this year, 20 percent above the 10-year average, thanks to a recovery in crop and livestock revenue and larger than usual federal payments, said the USDA. Higher market prices, particularly for corn, soybeans, cattle and hogs, and larger production were forecast to boost farm receipts by $20.4 billion from 2020's level.
The farm economy, battered since 2018 by a trade war and a pandemic, is rallying, though it is too early to declare a return to prosperity, said the president of the largest U.S. farm organization on Thursday, reserving judgment on whether more stopgap federal aid will be needed.
Congress allotted the same amount of funding for public nutrition programs that it did for agriculture in the new coronavirus relief bill, even though hunger is on the rise, wrote three economists on Tuesday. "An obvious way to address the problem would be to shift all or most of the $13 billion earmarked for farmers to federal nutrition programs that serve hungry families in real need," the economists said in an essay in The Hill.
Farm income recovered this summer from the steep coronavirus-driven declines of last spring, according to ag bankers in the Plains and Midwest who took part in Federal Reserve surveys. "An influx of government payments and higher prices for agricultural commodities provided greater support for farm finances in the third quarter and seemed to limit demand for financing," said a summary by two Kansas City Fed economists.