Farm income up for Minnesota farmers in 2019, but still historically low

Farm income for Minnesota farmers ticket ticked upward in 2019, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota, but was still historically low. 

The median net farm income in 2019 was $36,211, up slightly from the previous year, according to a news release. 

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However, Minnesota farmers continued to struggle with low profitability. In 2019, 28 percent of farms lost money, 48 percent lost working capital and 46 percent did not earn enough to cover scheduled debt payments. 

Researchers said profits for dairy farms in the state improved in 2019. The median dairy farm earned $64,144 compared to $15,434 in 2018. 

Pork producer earnings also rebounded with the median producer earning $96,245, up from $27,799.

The median income for crop farms was $36,600, but researchers say it would have been farm worse if not for the federal Market Facilitation Program (MFP) which provided payments to producers of commodities impacted by trade-related losses. MFP payments contributed over 100 percent of net income for a large share of Minnesota crop producers.

Beef producers continued to have low profits in 2019 with median net farm income just under $7,000, up from just $4,000 the previous year. 

The data comes from analyzing 2,167 participants in Minnesota State Farm Business Management programs and 106 members of the University’s Southwest Farm Business Management Association—a sample which represents approximately 10 percent of the state’s commercial farmers. 

The United States Department of Agriculture forecasts net farm income to be up slightly in 2020, with hog, dairy, beef and poultry producers seeing increases. USDA forecasts that net farm income for crop farms will remain unchanged.