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Net Farm Income Falls Significantly in 2009

posted on November 24, 2009

The holiday-shortened week was "stuffed" with economic reports and like a ne'er-do-well brother-in-law at the Thanksgiving table, not everyone was welcome.

In a revision of last month's report, the Commerce Department announced this week Gross Domestic Product -- the value of all goods and services produced in the U.S. -- grew at a rate of 2.8 percent in the 3rd quarter. Though still positive, the adjustment reflects 0.7 percent LESS expansion than the government originally estimated.

Meanwhile, the government said orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket durable goods unexpectedly fell by 0.6 percent in October.

But, new home sales rose more than 6 percent last month to their highest level in more than a year. The resale market was even stronger, with sales of existing homes rising 10 percent in their largest monthly gain in a decade.

And, consumer spending rose a brisk 0.7 percent in October, in the wake of a pullback in September.

Since consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of all economic activity, and holiday sales make up as much as 40 percent of many retailers annual revenue, the stakes are especially high this year.

But if net farm income has any bearing on holiday shopping, many rural Americans may say, "humbug."

Net Farm Income Falls Significantly in 2009

After soaring to record highs in 2007 and 2008, government bean crunchers predict a significant drop in net farm income this year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, or ERS, net farm income will fall nearly 35 percent in 2009 - a $30 billion drop from the previous year.

The 2009 forecast is $6.5 billion below the ten-year average of $63.6 billion in net farm income. Nevertheless, the 2009 forecast remains the eighth largest earned income figures in U.S. history.

ERS data claim farm inputs like feed, fertilizer and fuel costs will also decline for 2009. The previous year's figures witnessed a dramatic rise in fuel and fertilizer costs that sent many commodity markets into volatile sessions.

Overall government farm payments are expected to remain static year-to-year, but shift from largely emergency assistance to counter cyclical programs and Milk Income Loss payments. While farmers witnessed record Midwestern flooding in 2008 causing a spike in disaster payments, 2009 has brought much of the dairy industry to its knees with prices well below the cost of production.


Tags: agriculture Congress dairy government markets milk news USDA