The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates the U.S. farm sector will see profits fall to their lowest since 2010, resulting in less capital investment and a moderation of growth in farmland values. Falling grain prices and rising expenses are to blame, the USDA said.
Farm sector debt is expected to rise 3.1 percent, increasing more than assets for the first time since 2009. Much of the increase is from non-real estate loans.
The USDA’s Economic Research Service forecast net farm income in 2014 of $96.9 billion, a significant drop from the $113.2 billion estimated in August.
"The changed outlook is largely the result of declines in expected crop prices, reducing crop cash receipts from the August forecasts," the USDA said.
The largest increase in expenses is a 28 percent jump in livestock and poultry purchases. The USDA says lower feed prices should kick in over time, due to the drop in grain prices. The current USDA forecast for 2014-15 corn is $3.50 per bushel, down from the August forecast of $3.90.
Median farm household income is forecast at $70,564, down from $71,697.
"Given the broad USDA definition of a farm, many farmers are not profitable even in the best farm income years," the USDA said.
UPDATE 1-U.S. farm profits to slump along with grain prices -USDA