U.S. net farm income will be a stronger-than-expected $151 billion this year, the second-highest total on record, estimated the Agriculture Department on Thursday. That’s roughly $10 billion higher than the August forecast and due chiefly to cost cutting by producers, aided by lower fertilizer, fuel, and feed prices.
The season-average prices for most U.S. agricultural commodities are on a decline that could persist into 2026, said a report from the FAPRI think tank at the University of Missouri. Global economic growth has slowed after a heady recovery from the pandemic in 2021, and world grain production is up this year, creating more competition for U.S. crops.
With interest rates sharply higher, farmers are increasingly relying on savings or tightening their belts instead of seeking bank loans to cover their expenses, according to ag lenders nationwide. “The outlook for the U.S. farm economy has moderated in recent months as risks of more limited profit opportunities have grown alongside softening in commodity markets and elevated production expenses,” said the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank.
After two record-setting years in a row, U.S. net farm income will decline sharply in the near term, pulled down by lower crop and livestock prices, though it will remain well above its 10-year average, said FAPRI on Wednesday. The University of Missouri think tank said food inflation would drop to 4.4 percent this year — less than half of last year’s rate — and run at 2 percent in following years.
At the same time that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for more attention to small and midsize farmers, who see limited revenue from agriculture, a key Southern senator cautioned on Thursday against “a small farm versus big farm conflict” in writing the new farm bill. Large-scale operators collect the lion’s share of U.S. farm subsidies at present because payments are tied to production volume.
High commodity prices, due in part to warfare in Ukraine, will propel U.S. net farm income to a record $160.5 billion this year, despite a steep climb in expenses, said the Agriculture Department on Thursday. Farm income, a gauge of profitability, would be 14 percent higher than last year.
Net farm income is at record levels, thanks to high commodity prices, and is expected to remain strong for two or three years, yet farm groups are telling Congress “that existing subsidy programs should be continued, their scope expanded, and federal spending increased” in the 2023 farm bill, said an American Enterprise Institute analyst.
Farmers faced higher expenses and earned less money from their crops and livestock than initially expected in 2020, due to market disruptions caused by the pandemic, said a USDA Covid-19 working paper. By many standards, such as debt-to-asset ratio, the financial strength of the sector softened in 2020, despite $45.7 billion in federal subsidies — the largest ever — said USDA economists.
Record-high expenses and sharply lower federal subsidies will erode farm income in 2022, according to a forecast by the Agriculture Department. Nonetheless, U.S. agriculture would see one of its best years on record, with net farm income 26 percent above its 10-year average.
Despite the disruptions of the pandemic, U.S. farm income, a broad measure of profits, will be the highest since 2013, thanks to strong corn, soybean, wheat, broiler, cattle, and hog prices this year, said the USDA on Wednesday. "It is primarily a price story," said USDA economist Carrie Litkowski.
After reaching its highest level since 2013, U.S. net farm income would tumble by one-fifth next year, despite continued high crop and livestock revenue, said the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute on Tuesday. "Under current policies, farm income could drop again in 2022, as government payments decline and production expenses continue to rise," the think tank said.
The final coronavirus aid package of the year would direct 3 percent of its $900 billion in funding to food assistance and relief for agricultural producers, according to its Democratic and Republican sponsors. "It's a deal that must come together," said one of the sponsors, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, on Sunday.
U.S. farm income, buoyed by record-setting farm subsidies this year, will sink in the new year with the disappearance of government payments to buffer the effects of the trade war and the coronavirus pandemic on agriculture, said the FAPRI think tank on Thursday. Farm groups and their allies in Congress are likely to seek billions of dollars in new federal assistance, said analysts.
Besides billions of dollars in cash payments to farmers, coronavirus relief will include purchases of "as much" milk and meat as possible for hunger relief, said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Wednesday. President Trump says at least $16 billion will be spent on aid to agriculture. (No paywall)
Thanks to a steady recovery, U.S. farm income this year will be the highest since 2013, the peak of the commodity boom, said the government on Wednesday. The USDA forecast net farm income, a broad measure of profits, at $96.7 billion this year, with higher crop and livestock revenue offsetting the end of two years of mammoth Trump tariff payments.
The USDA forecast net farm income of $69.4 billion this year. If accurate, the total would be the third year of net income below $70 billion since 2015. “We’re starting to see ... a new average coming out here,” said USDA economist Carrie Litkowski on Wednesday.
After hitting a pothole in 2018, U.S. net farm income will recover this year under the combined effects of financial belt-tightening and rising crop prices, said the USDA on Thursday. It projected net farm income of $77.6 billion in 2019, which would be the highest total since the commodity boom collapsed in 2014.
U.S. farm income has been in a rut since the collapse of the commodity boom in 2013, and it is likely to grow only slowly after a bump upward in 2019, estimated a University of Missouri think tank.