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Wisconsin farmers end a good year, look ahead to 2014 – Audio

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

Ed Jesse recaps the 2013 Wisconsin farm income, and the numbers to be expected for 2014.

3:06 – Total Time

0:19 – Recap of 2013 Wisconsin farm income
0:45 – Where the money is earned
1:10 – Good year, generally
1:58 – Less income likely in 2014
2:33 – Averages not always the whole story
2:54 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Ed welcome to our microphone. Can you do a little recap of the year? 

Ed Jesse: Income wise it was a very good year for Wisconsin. We earned about, in total, 3.75 billion dollars in that farm income, which is not a record, but very close to it. Our record was set in 2011 at 3.8 billion dollars, by about 400 million dollars above last year. So we’ve had three years in a row of very attractive net farm incomes for farmers.

Sevie Kenyon: And Ed, where do our farmers earn their money?

Ed Jesse: The biggy this year was in dairy. Dairy was up substantially. We had record revenue for dairy producers in 2013, and that came as a product of very good prices, second highest to 2011 in terms of all milk price in Wisconsin, and about 500 million pounds more production.

Sevie Kenyon: How about the other segments of our agricultural business, how’d they fair on the income side?

Ed Jesse: Kind of a mixed bag. Livestock producers in general did quite well. Meat animals were up about 2 percent in terms of gross revenue. Poultry and eggs were up about 7 percent, and other livestock, which is a fairly large complex category, was also up about 7 percent. Now on the crop side, probably on the negative. One surprising statistic was that revenue to seed/grain farmers, primarily corn farmers, was down from last year. Last year we had a drought, we had a very very low crop, we had a lot of the acreages never harvested, but the prices were very high, and those farmers that had corn to sell did very well. This year prices were much lower, crop was much larger, but it ended up being worth less than it was last year.

Sevie Kenyon: Ed what do you see looking ahead [to 2014]?

Ed Jesse: The crystal ball is pretty murky. I think in general we can say that things will not be as well; as good as they were in 2013. I think dairy income will be down, perhaps as much as 2 to 3 percent. I think that crop revenue will be down because we’re going into a situation where farmers are planting fairly large acreages of corn and soybeans, and we already are beginning to build up stocks in those commodities. So I’m looking for a decline in net farm income below the, what we’ve enjoyed the last three years.

Sevie Kenyon: And Ed, were there any surprises?

Ed Jesse: Not really, but one thing I need to mention is that we’re talking about gross values here, and averages across the state. Like always, and perhaps more than always we have a lot of variability across the state in weather conditions, in the need to buy feed, dairy and livestock operations, or raises on their farm. Not everybody did as well as the average.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Ed Jesse, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, now celebrating 125 years, and I am Sevie Kenyon.