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Net farm income up 28 percent in 2011

WILLMAR -- For the last several years, many segments of our nation's economy have been severely impacted by what is often referred to as the Great Recession. Fortunately, many of America's rural areas and rural communities have been somewhat insulated from the negative repercussions of the economic recession, thanks largely to a very strong and vibrant agricultural economy.

Most local farmers would agree that the last several years have been some of their best ever. Overall, we've had average or even better-than-average crops, the higher grain and livestock prices have provided good profit margins, and farmland values have been on an unprecedented upward trend.

So the latest economic forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms what many already knew -- that 2011 was another very good year for our nation's grain and livestock producers.

According to USDA's Economic Research Service, net farm income is forecast to reach $100.9 billion in 2011, up $21.8 billion or 28 percent from 2010.

By USDA definition, net farm income is a measure of the increase in wealth from production. It reflects income from production in the current year, whether or not sold within the calendar year.

Wes Nelson is executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Kandiyohi County.