In time of recession agriculture plays hero

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The agricultural industry was a major driver in states across the country, contributing to America’s economic recovery, but certain sectors remain anxious for 2014.

Several states recorded higher farm income levels in the last two years that were more than double levels from four years earlier. Prairie Business reports South Dakota’s farm income topped $2 billion for the first time in 2008 and reached $4 billion and $3.5 billion in 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Jim Terwilliger, economist for the state Bureau of Finance and Management, said South Dakota’s agricultural industry kept the state moving through the recession.

 “Since 2008 things have pretty much just exploded in farm income,” Terwilliger said. “Quite frankly, it’s helped our state weather the recession we had better than almost any state in the nation.”

Kentucky was another state with record farm production this year. Strong equine, poultry and cattle markets pushed Kentucky’s farm cash receipts to over $6 billion. Ideal growing conditions boosted the state’s crop production and livestock prices are likely to keep Kentucky’s net farm income above $1.5 billion this year.

The USDA is projecting that U.S. net farm income will achieve a record high of $131 billion in 2013, up 15 percent from the previous year and breaking 2011’s record by $13 billion.

Most farmers and ranchers see next year as a good year for agriculture, but low corn values and increasing farmland prices and rental rates will make it more difficult to improve profits even if yields get better. Growing crop supplies globally will ease demand for many major row crops in the near future.

Regional factors will also affect some farmers and ranchers going forward. The blizzard in early October killed thousands of cattle in western South Dakota and Nebraska, taking millions of dollars from producers and their regional economy. California’s producers are planning for next year as they face continued drought and constrained feed supplies for livestock.

Congress can help solidify the future of America’s agricultural industry, but uncertainty over a new five-year farm bill continues to weigh on the industry outlook.

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