Newton on farm economy

The USDA estimates net farm income at 88 Billion dollars for 2019, which includes a big chunk of federal government payments. American Farm Bureau economist John Newton, at the Farm Foundation Forum hosted by the National Press Club, says that would put farm income in the top 30% of all time, “But when I talk to our farmers and ranchers around the country, people aren’t acting like 2019 is better. I haven’t met a farmer yet who says ‘2019’s better for me.’”

Even though farm debt is at record highs, Newton says farm asset values are also at record highs, “So that’s helped to keep those equity ratios from jumping significantly, is farmers still have a very, very strong asset base in their farmland.”

Newton says things could get better before the year is up, if there’s another round of MFP payments, and, he says, “A lot of farmers have yet to receive their crop insurance indemnity. A lot of farmers have yet to receive their Farm Bill program payments. So, when all is said and done, when all the disaster aid monies have gone out, MAYBE, just MAYBE 2019 may end up being a better year.”

But the reliance on government payments this year, Newton says, brings a lot of concern about 2020.

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