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USDA expects net farm income will decline 26.6 percent in 2014

By Wes Nelson

Farm Service Agency

WILLMAR — The latest farm income forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirms what farmers and lenders have already discovered — that it will be strikingly more difficult to assure that the income side of the balance sheet at the end of the year will be sufficient to cover the expense side.

According to the USDA’s Economic Research Service, net farm income is expected to total $95.8 billion in 2014, down 26.6 percent from the 2013’s forecast of $130.5 billion. The 2014 forecast would be the lowest since 2010, but would remain $8 billion above the previous 10-year average.

Lower crop cash prices, and, to a lesser degree, a change in the value of crop inventories and reduced government farm payments, are all factors in the expected drop in farm income.

Crop receipts are expected to decrease more than 12 percent in 2014, led by a projected $11 billion decline in corn receipts and a $6 billion decline in soybean receipts.

On a more positive note, USDA is also forecasting that livestock receipts will increase in 2014, largely due to higher milk prices. In addition, lower prices for soybeans and especially corn are likely to benefit livestock producers by reducing their feeding costs.

Under the Agricultural Act of 2014, the elimination of direct payments and the uncertainty regarding enrollment and payments in 2014 will result in a projected 45 percent decline in government payments.

On the other hand, USDA also expects that total production expenses will decline to $3.9 billion in 2014, which would be only the second time in the last 10 years that expenses have declined.

The rate of growth in farm assets, debt and equity are all forecast to slow in 2014 when compared to recent years. The slowdown in growth is a result of expected lower net income, higher borrowing costs, and a moderation in the growth of farmland values.

According to USDA, the value of farm assets is expected to rise 2.4 percent in 2014, while farm sector debt is expected to increase 2.3 percent. This represents a noticeable reduction in the average annual growth in each of these measures compared with the last 10 years.

For more information regarding USDA’s latest farm income forecast, visit

Crop Disaster Assistance Program sign-up ends March 17

The Non-Insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program provides weather-related protection for all crops produced commercially, but for which multi-peril crop insurance coverage is not available.

Examples of eligible crops include specific fruits and vegetables, such as but not limited to apples, strawberries and asparagus. Other eligible crops would include Christmas trees, sod, honey, ginseng, pasture and perennial forage crops of grass hay, mixed hay or alfalfa stands that are 5 years old or older.

The program sign-up deadline for pasture and spring seeded crops is March 17. To learn more about the program or to apply for coverage, producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office.

Crop insurance purchase deadline is March 17

The deadline for farmers to purchase and finalize a crop insurance plan with their insurance agent is March 17.

As the spring planting season approaches, much of Minnesota’s prime crop-producing areas are rather dry. According to a recent update to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 51 percent of Minnesota was listed as being abnormally dry, with 23 percent of the state considered in a moderate drought. On a more local basis, Kandiyohi County and all of its neighboring counties are rated as being either abnormally dry or in a moderate drought.  

According to USDA’s Risk Management Agency, before purchasing crop insurance farmers should consider how a policy will work in conjunction with their other risk management strategies to ensure the best possible outcome each crop year.

Crop insurance agents and other agri-business specialists can assist farmers in developing a good management plan. A list of crop insurance agents, by county, can be found on the Risk Management Agency’s website at www.rma.

Scrapie eradication efforts nearly complete

In recent years, a nationwide effort has been underway to eradicate scrapie from the United States. Since the slaughter surveillance program began back in 2003, the prevalence of scrapie has decreased by 94 percent.

However, to locate the final cases of the disease and assure that eradication is complete, officials from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health are seeking the assistance of sheep and goat producers.

Sheep and goats not slaughtered in commercial channels are not routinely tested for scrapie. To completely eradicate scrapie, as many samples as possible are needed from sheep and goats over 18 months of age that are euthanized or die on the farm. Samples can be collected by the producer or a veterinarian.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will pay to have up to 30 animals per flock tested annually.

Instructions on how to collect samples, along with pre-paid shipping boxes and labels can be obtained by sending an email to Remington. Boxes and labels can also be ordered by contacting the Indiana Veterinary Services Office at 317-347-3100.

Producers are also asked to monitor their animals for any signs of the disease. If any sheep or goats over 12 months of age exhibit clinical signs of scrapie, including behavioral changes, incoordination, weight loss despite retention of appetite, or severe and persistent rubbing, contact your veterinarian or call the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at 651-296-2942.

Scrapie is a fatal, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of sheep and goats. It is among a number of diseases classified as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

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