First audio in a series produced in concert with the Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum Wednesday, Jan. 21 on the UW-Madison campus. Registration costs $15.00 and covers both the lunch and the forum. For more information and to register, visit: http://agoutlook.cals.wisc.edu/.
Bruce Jones, UW-Extension Agricultural Economist
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
In this first in a series of podcasts produced in concert with the Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum, Bruce Jones talks about how Wisconsin farmers fared economically in 2014.
2:40 – Total Time
0:20 – 2014 Wisconsin farm income up
0:44 – Farm income compared to other states
1:14 – Dairy income up
1:58 – 2015 income outlook
2:30 – Lead out
Sevie Kenyon: Bruce, give us an idea of how farmers fared in the year we just wrapped up.
Bruce Jones: Well 2014 appears to have been a pretty good year for Wisconsin farmers. Incomes were up relative to what they were in 2013. Expenses were up as well, but the good news is that incomes rose more than expenses and so the net farm income of Wisconsin farms are up. Maybe in the neighborhood of $300 million to what they were in 2013.
Sevie Kenyon: Bruce, how does this compare to our other farming states?
Bruce Jones: Well relative to the U.S., Wisconsin had a much better year than in the aggregate U.S. That U.S. farmers saw their expenses rise like Wisconsin farmers did. Unfortunately incomes did not rise. Actually they fell a bit in 2014, and so we’re seeing somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25 percent drop in net farm income in the U.S. So it didn’t work out quite as well for U.S. farmers.
Sevie Kenyon:Why did Wisconsin fare a little better than our neighboring farm states?
Bruce Jones: Well the big word’s dairy; dairy receipts were up because we had milk production increasing. More importantly the price of milk was quite strong throughout most of 2014. That income gain and in some respects some reductions in feed costs helped improve the margins for dairy farmers and that translated into higher net farm income. On the U.S. side, more cash grain areas, with the declines in the corn and soybean prices, cash grain farmers saw a significant drop in their income and that translated into a drop in net farm income. So while U.S. farmers were losing, actually Wisconsin farmers were winning; the feed cost side and the improved milk price.
Sevie Kenyon:Bruce, how do you feel about the year ahead?
Bruce Jones: It’s going to raise a little more challenges than we saw in 2014. The milk price isn’t likely to be nearly as strong as what it was in 2014. Hopefully we’ve bottomed out in terms of grain prices, and so maybe we can see a little bit of a turnaround there for cash grain farmers. All signs point to some tempering and some decline in net farm income. Nothing to get necessarily all that much worried about, but it’s not likely to be as good as it’s been the last three or four years.
Sevie Kenyon:We’ve been visiting today with Bruce Jones, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.