Executive Intelligence Review


Farming Income Stays Negative, as Families Live on Off-Farm Income

Feb. 26, 2018 (EIRNS)—Today, the biggest subsidy—if you can call it that—propping up family farmers in the U.S., is working off the farm on outside jobs. Median income from actual farming itself, earned by farm households, was estimated at −$940 in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For this coming year of 2018, it is forecast to be worse, and be in the range of −$1,316.

An estimated 60% of principal farm operators work off the farm; and many of these, as well as full-time farmers, have relatives or others who likewise work off-farm in order to subsidize the household, given losses in direct farm income.

The following are the levels of expected losses incurred for farming, by crop and per acre, as of December 2017, according to the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at Knoxville, Tennessee:

Wheat: −$118.75/acre

Corn: −$115.33/acre

Grain sorghum: −$96.07/acre

Rice: −$19.02/acre

Cotton: −$13.00/acre

Soybeans: −$16.71/acre

For example, net revenue for cotton is slated for its seventh straight year of loss; and grain sorghum lost money for eight out of the last nine years.

The USDA Economic Research Service “Highlights From the February 2018 Farm Income Forecast” for Feb. 20, began with the gross overview for 2018, under the headline, “Farm Sector Profits Expected To Decline in 2018.”

The ERS article reports,

“Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $4.3 billion (6.7%) from 2017 to $59.5 billion in 2018, the lowest net farm income level in nominal dollar terms since 2006.... In inflation-adjusted (real) 2018 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decline $5.4 billion (8.3%) from 2017 and, if realized, would be the lowest real-dollar level since 2002.”

(Net farm income is a “comprehensive measure that incorporates non-cash items, including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income.”)