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Jesse: more crop income, less livestock income – Audio

Ed Jesse, Professor Emeritus
Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone (608) 262-6348

Changing trends in Wisconsin farm income

2:49 – Total Time

0:19 – Crop revenues increasing
1:21 – Sharp reduction in revenue from hogs, cattle
1:40 – What the trends mean
2:10 – Crop revenue likely to remain important
2:39 – Lead out


The ever-changing face of Wisconsin agriculture. We’re visiting today with Ed Jesse, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.

Sevie Kenyon: Ed, you’ve been studying the changes in Wisconsin, can you describe some of those for us?

Ed Jesse: Yes, we looked at long-terms shifts in revenues from crop and livestock from 1924 to 2011 to see what’s been happening with respect to the relative share of total farm income, gross farm income, coming from these commodities. What we learned was that dairy continues to be very large in Wisconsin but the proportion of farm income coming from dairy has gone down over time and what’s happened is that crop revenue has gone up. We’re not talking about a reduction in total amount of dairy income; we’re talking about a relative thing going on with crop revenue increasing. The increasing crop revenue is particularly dramatic since the early 2000’s when we began to get into situation where fuel blending mandates, ethanol blending mandates, took a lot of the corn supply, raised corn prices, and provided some strong incentives for planting more corn [and] in many cases, getting out of livestock production.

Sevie Kenyon: Did you find any surprises in your research?

Ed Jesse: The surprise to me was the fairly sharp reduction in revenue coming from other livestock. That is, livestock species other than dairy, primarily cattle and hogs. That proportion has decreased almost continually over the last 50 years.

Sevie Kenyon: Ed, after looking at these trends, what are your thoughts on what they mean to us?

Ed Jesse: I guess I see things in a positive light. I think that growing more crops is a positive thing in the sense that we have plenty of feed for our dairy cattle and it’s going to be located close to those operations. I think also that it’s logical economics; we’ve had enormous increases in prices for corn, in particular, soybeans to a lesser extent, and one would expect that we’re going to move into producing those commodities that have the highest value and the highest net profit.

Sevie Kenyon: Ed, what do these trends look like into the future?

Ed Jesse: It’s hard to predict whether we will continue to see the rapid growth in crop production in the state relative to other sectors. My guess is it will slow down; I don’t think we’re going to see the kinds of prices for corn and soybeans we’ve seen over the last three or four years. On the other hand, I don’t think we’re ever going to see a crops revenue drop to the levels that it was, let’s say, 10 or 15 years ago. I think, to some extent, Wisconsin is now part of the Corn Belt.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Ed Jesse, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, Madison, WI and I’m Sevie Kenyon.