WILLMAR -- Area farmers will soon complete the harvest of this year's crop. And as they do, farmers already know that 2011 will not be nearly as profitable as 2010.
The primary reason why 2010 was such a profitable year was that farmers benefited from the rare combination of outstanding crops, exceptionally high prices and lower input costs. So a recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms what farmers already knew -- that 2010 was an exceptionally good year for Minnesota agriculture.
According to USDA, net farm income for Minnesota farmers in 2010 was up 48 percent from 2009. The increase was magnified by an overall reduction of input costs for fuel, pesticides, marketing and storage, while most commodity prices received by farmers were above 2009 prices.
The report indicates that total cash receipts for Minnesota farms totaled $15.1 billion, up 10 percent from $13.8 billion in 2009. The total value of crops sold, at $8.96 billion, increased 4 percent from 2009.
Corn, the state's largest crop in terms of cash receipts, increased 8 percent to $4 billion in 2010. Cash receipts from soybeans increased by 2 percent to just under $3 billion, while sugar beets generated just under $609 million in receipts, up nearly 15 percent.
Cash receipts from Minnesota livestock also increased in 2010. According to USDA, cash receipts from all livestock and livestock products totaled $6.18 billion, up 19 percent from 2009.
Cash receipts from hogs, the state's largest livestock commodity in terms of cash receipts, increased by 18 percent to nearly $2.3 billion in 2010. Cash receipts from dairy cattle and calves in 2010 increased by 21 percent and 22 percent, respectively.
Government payments to Minnesota farmers in 2010 totaled $566 million, up 7 percent from 2009.
Minnesota corn, soybean and sugar beet production down from 2010
In the October crop production report, USDA was forecasting that Minnesota production of corn, soybeans and sugar beets will all be down from last year's record highs.
Based on crop conditions as of Oct. 1, USDA estimated that Minnesota corn production would total 1.26 billion bushels this year, down 2 percent from 2009. Corn yields in Minnesota are expected to average 165 bushels per acre, down 12 bushels from last year's record high average of 177 bushels per acre.
Minnesota soybean production is expected to total 287 million bushels, down 13 percent from last year's 329 million bushels. Minnesota soybean yields are expected to average 41 bushels per acre, down 4 bushels from 2009.
Minnesota sugar beet production is forecast to total 9.47 million tons, down 19 percent from 2010. Sugar beet yields are expected to average 20.5 tons per acre, down 6.1 tons from last year's record high average of 26.6 tons per acre.
FSA increases loan funding for minority and women farmers
During the 2011 fiscal year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency increased the number of dollars obligated for minority and women farmers to $554 million, a 9 percent increase from the 2010 fiscal year. The largest increase was for guaranteed farm ownership loans, which increased by 40 percent to $161.8 million.
In addition to improvements in lending practices to minority and women producers, the Farm Service Agency has seen an overall improvement in its loan portfolio.
Losses in the agency's direct loan program during the 2010 fiscal year fell to 1.2 percent, its second lowest level since 1986, while direct loan delinquency rates, at 5.9 percent, have been at historic lows for the last two decades.
The delinquency rate for the agency's guaranteed loan program was 1.69 percent, the second lowest since 1995.
Foreclosure rates also remain very low, with just 64 completed during the 2010 fiscal year. That represents less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the agency's direct loan caseload.
During the 2010 fiscal year, the Farm Service Agency conducted business with 70,000 borrowers, while also providing financial support to 1.9 million producers through a variety of federal farm programs.
Out of the 1.9 million producers the agency serves, only 37 complaints were received during the 2010 fiscal year -- the lowest number filed in the agency's history.
Board decides to end
Pilot Biotechnology Endorsement program in 2012
Officials from USDA's Risk Management Agency have announced that beginning with the 2012 calendar year, the Pilot Biotechnology Endorsement program will end.
Approved by the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation's board of directors for the 2008-2011 crop years, the program provided a premium reduction to eligible producers that planted certain qualifying corn hybrids.
After careful consideration, the board of directors concluded that the Pilot Biotechnology Endorsement program will end in the interest of program simplification.
The Risk Management Agency will also consider an appropriate reduction in the underlying base premium rates for corn in the existing pilot area, beginning with the 2012 crop year.
States in the Pilot Biotechnology Endorsement program included Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.