What Downturn? Farmers Have Abundant Year

Profits set to jump 28%, cross $100B mark

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 12, 2011 8:24 AM CST

(Newser) – The rest of us might be bracing for the worst, but US farmers are having a banner year. With prices soaring for crops, farmland, and livestock, farmers are set to score profits of $100.9 billion, a 28% jump, the AP reports. That's the first time the figure has topped the $100 billion mark, and it's joined by two other records: Farms are expected to have more than $100 billion in cash available to cover bills, and crop sales are likely to pass $200 billion. "We're just experiencing the best of times," says an agricultural economist. "It's a story to tell." And due to demand in China, India, and other developing countries for US agricultural exports, some experts are calling this the "new normal."

But the playing field is far from even. While an Illinois farmer found himself able to make tractor payments a year in advance, and a farmer in Oregon made $2 million by selling off land and equipment, others haven't been so lucky. A Kansas farmer hit by drought fell short of breaking even despite his insurance. But droughts drove up crop prices, proving a boon for other farmers. "At the expense of some farmers, other farmers become wealthy," the Kansas farmer notes. "That's not the government's fault, it's nobody's fault. That's just the way things happen."

In a photo taken Oct. 31, 2011, central Illinois farmer Dale Hadden feeds his Angus beef cattle on the family farm near Jacksonville, Ill. Hadden's farming operation is doing especially well this year for any of a number of reasons and will use this as an opportunity to funnel some...
In a photo taken Oct. 31, 2011, central Illinois farmer Dale Hadden feeds his Angus beef cattle on the family farm near Jacksonville, Ill. Hadden's farming operation is doing especially well this year...   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
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