agriculture economy

Earlier this month Farmers began recieving aid relief from tariffs, but even with relief farm incomes are still down. that means many farmers will likely be putting of larger purchases which will puts a strain on ag suppliers. 


Agribusiness Mergers Putting Farmers In A Tight Spot

Feb 8, 2018
Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

Farmers who grow the corn and soybeans that our food system requires are in a tight spot.

As Mother Jones reports, growers depend on a very small number of companies, which have enormous leverage to raise prices, for seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers. Then, when farmers go to sell their crops, a few very large grain-trading firms have the leverage to keep prices down, due to a lack of competition.

The farm economy is showing some stability, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says, but the upswing doesn’t extend to all agricultural sectors.

Over the last three years, farm earnings have plummeted, eliciting concerns that the farm economy could tumble toward another farm crisis like the 1980s. For 2018, the USDA expects net farm income to rebound by a modest 3 percent nationwide, to $63 billion.

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Colby Kansas Farmer Lon Frahm is featured in a video from the Wall Street Journal about the future of farming in the U.S.

Frahm says technology has allowed him to do more farming with the same amount of people – nine to be exact, who help him farm 30,000 acres of corn and wheat. Thirty years ago, Frahm had 6,000 acres and four employees.

After years of declining income on America’s farms and ranches, the agricultural sector might have finally hit the floor.  

The latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture expect farmers to bring in more money this year than initially projected. Crop and livestock producers could net $63.4 billion in 2017. That would be an increase of nearly $1 billion from 2016, and would be the first time farmers see a rise in net farm income year-to-year since 2013.

Colorado Department of Agriculture

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is offering a crisis hotline for farmers facing emotional crisis because of financial strains.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Colorado's wheat and corn farmers, like those across the High Plains, are struggling as global competition forces prices down below their production costs.

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As farmers face their fourth straight year of declining incomes, soybeans are offering a glimmer of hope.

As Reuters reports, China’s demand for soybeans is providing a narrow path of profitability for U.S. farmers but fierce competition to supply China threatens the bottom line for U.S. growers, and 2017 prices, which are slightly higher than 2016 prices, are still projected to be 50 cents per bushel lower than they were three years ago.

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The state of the farm economy is helping agricultural groups and farm-state lawmakers make their case for preserving and possibly increasing funding levels in the 2018 farm bill but some last week argued against it.

As Politico reports, the Heritage Foundation, the Environmental Working Group and Taxpayers for Common Sense argued that the current downturn in an inherently cyclical market shouldn’t be used to maintain the status quo on farm policy.

In search of profit, some conventional farmers may go local

Feb 22, 2017
Bryan Thomas / Harvest Public Media

Low crop prices have many Midwest wheat and corn farmers looking for ways to supplement their incomes. One possibility for conventional farmers: producing food for farmers markets.

Moran's memo: A farm crisis in the High Plains

Feb 21, 2017
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas

As a resident of the community, I was pleased to learn that Manhattan, Kansas, is set to host the first Senate Agriculture Committee farm bill hearing – a fitting location chosen by my colleague Chairman Pat Roberts to kick off formal discussions on the challenges and opportunities in authorizing our next farm bill.

Wheat's merit debated as acreage falls

Feb 16, 2017
Travis Morrise / The Hutchinson News

While farmers across the central plains were gradually easing away from planting wheat, the Horton brothers were doubling down.

Over the past 10 years, Rick Horton and his younger brothers Matt and Alec put together a business at Leoti, Kansas, that consists of portable wheat seed cleaning and seed treatment along with selling certified seed from more than a dozen varieties they test annually on their own farm.

Layton Ehmke

Following months and months of incredibly dry weather, the good news is that much of Kansas finally got some badly needed rain, ice and snow several weeks ago back in January. With that precip, the wheat plant roots are finally starting to grow.

And it looks like a fair amount of the Kansas wheat crop now has a future.

Frank Morris / Harvest Public Media

How low can it go?

That’s what many in farm country asked about the farm economy Tuesday, after the Agriculture Department forecast another plunge this year in profits for farmers.

Net farm income will fall 8.7 percent from last year’s levels, according to the year’s first forecast produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS). If realized, that would mark the fourth-straight year of profit declines, after 2013 saw record-highs.

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A western Kansas farming family struggling to keep their fifth-generation farming operation afloat amidst a slump in corn, wheat and other commodity prices is featured in a Wall Street Journal article about the struggling farm economy.

The ongoing slump in corn, wheat and other commodity prices, caused by global oversupply, is putting many farmers in debt and in some cases, resulting in farm closures.

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Even though many farmers are stewing over President Donald Trump’s moves to formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, House Agricultural Chairman Mike Conaway thinks Trump could get the agriculture industry a better deal.

Colorado farm and ranch income has hit its lowest level in 30 years, according University of Colorado Boulder research.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, much of agriculture is suffering in Colorado, which like other parts of the High Plains region is facing low corn, wheat and cattle prices.

Roberts: First farm bill hearing to be held in Kansas

Jan 30, 2017
Sandra J. Milburn / The Hutchinson News

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nation's first farm bill hearing will take place in Kansas.

Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan announced the hearing on the 2018 farm bill Wednesday.

According to a press release from the committee, the hearing will be Feb. 23 at McCain Auditorium on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan.

Amy Bickel / The Hutchinson News

Lane County farmer Vance Ehmke calls himself one of those guys who sees a dark cloud in front of every silver lining.

Ehmke, who sells certified seed, harvested the best wheat crop of his lifetime in June. But as a glut of grain piled high at many Kansas elevators, commodity prices collapsed, sending producers into a farm crisis not seen since the 1980s.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

President Obama’s two-term agriculture secretary will soon slip through one of Washington’s revolving doors and switch from government official to private sector executive eager to push for an industry agenda.  

Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday that his first job outside the Cabinet will be heading up a dairy industry trade group that pushes for access to foreign markets, the U.S. Dairy Export Council.

Down times in farm country persist, but not yet a ‘crisis’

Jan 17, 2017
Elliot Chapman

Farmers across the Midwest are trying to figure out how to get by at a time when expected prices for commodities from corn, to wheat, to cattle, to hogs mean they’ll be struggling just to break even.

“Prices are low, bins are full, and the dollar is strengthening as we speak and that’s just making the export thing a little more challenging,” says Paul Burgener of Platte Valley Bank in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

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Farming is one of the most dangerous professions in the nation.

As High Plains Journal reports, the pitfalls and hazards of farming are so many and varied that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) calls it one of the most dangerous professions in the U.S.

Watch: Down times have farmers looking to cut costs

Jan 9, 2017
Harvest Public Media

The federal government expected net farm income and farm profits to fall in 2016, the third-straight year of declines. That means farmers and ranchers are taking a closer look at their finances, and many aren’t very optimistic about their prospects for 2017.

Amy Mayer / Harvest Public Media

Cropland in the Midwest is losing its value as the downturn in the agriculture economy continues, according to a number of surveys by agricultural economists. Record-high crop prices contributed to record-high land values in 2012 and 2013, but now, that party is over.