Another Rough Income Year for Grain Farmers



It looks like 2017 will be another rough year for grain farmers in the United States. Even in Illinois, where the trend line yield for corn is 200 bushels to the acre and 61 for soybeans, the average income on a 1500 acre grain for this year is just $25,000. That’s not good says University of Illinois Agricultural Economist Gary Schnitkey, “That $25,000 isn’t enough to cover all the family living withdrawals and capital purchase expenses needed for a family farm of this size. Seventy to eighty-thousand dollars is needed to be sustainable in the long run. So, we are looking, again, at some financial deterioration if these projections hold”.
That $25,000 isn’t enough to cover all the family living withdrawals and capital purchase expenses needed for a family farm of this size. Seventy to eighty-thousand dollars is needed to be sustainable in the long run.
It is a projection that wasn’t quite so low earlier in the year. Then, like today, Schnitkey was using an average cash sales price of $3.70 a bushel in the Illinois crop budget for corn. What has caused the University of Illinois forecast to come down is the decline in soybean prices. Earlier in the year it was $9.70 for price, but now it has come down and Schnitkey is using $9.00 in the 2017 soybean crop budget. Even this is above the current fall delivery price at about $8.85 in central Illinois.


University of Illinois 2017 Projected Crop Budgets

A decline in soybean prices to $9.00 likely will trigger 2017 ARC-CO payments, given county soybean yields are at trend levels. As a result, U of I’s 2017 projections build in a $15 per acre government payment. It won’t arrive until the fall of 2018, but an estimated $20 payment from last year’s crop should arrive this fall.

In 2017, revenue is projected to be $755 per acre for corn, down by $77 per acre from last year. Gross revenue for soybeans is projected at $564 per acre, $140 per acre lower than in 2016.

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