Ag Instructor Vic Martin: Sobering Agricultural Statistics

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Great Bend Tribune
Published September 6, 2020

The Drought Monitor shows little change from last week, however the areas classified as abnormally dry and in drought are starting to expand a bit from the west eastward.  Much of immediate area received beneficial rains.  Most corn is drying down with some harvest starting in spots.  Most milo fields look good and are turning color.  The two crops that would benefit most from a good rain right now are soybeans and alfalfa.  The six to ten day outlook (September 9 to 13) has below normal precipitation and well-below normal temperatures for the state.  Looking out eight to fourteen days (September 11 to September 17) indicates more of the same.  The outlook for September through November is for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.

This is Labor Day Weekend, a last hurrah for summer as meteorological fall is here.  As we think about and celebrate workers and their accomplishments, we need to remember all those producing food, fiber, and fuel.  With all that is going on right now, it might be enlightening to consider what is going on currently with the costs and revenues in agriculture.  Most are aware, or should be, that farmers and ranchers are experiencing difficult times financially.  But just how hard?  The following are some average numbers comparing production costs to selling price.  Remember, these are averages.  These statistics come from groups such as the National Farmers Union and K-State Research and Extension.

  • Soybeans on average have production costs of $8.72 per bushel and will receive $8.51 per bushel.
  • For corn the average production cost per bushel is $3.50 and they can expect to receive only $3.21
  • A pound of cotton on average costs $0.75 to produce with a market price of $0.60.
  • A gallon of milk costs $1.95 to produce and sells for $1.79.
  • Production of a pound of pork costs $4.52 and fetches $3.99
  • The Kansas Farm Management Association is projection farm income in Kansas to decline by 87%.  It will fall from an average of $110,380 in to 2019 to $14,358 for 2020.  A great deal of that decline for grain producers is from the lack of the MFP.  Livestock operations will experience a larger decline of 142%.  Government payments are expected to make up for some of the decline.

This is occurring for a number of contributing factors from overproduction to trade disputes to pandemics and ethanol production.  This is the result of many factors and it is much too simplistic to attribute it to one factor.  Will some receive better prices than what is listed here and some less?  Yes.  Are there marketing tools to help manage this dilemma?  Yes.  Does all of this mean all producers are losing money?  No.  Does in mean that if this trend continues, some producers will go out of business?  Yes?

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