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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

USDA-ERS Quantifies Decline in Farmer Income


The USDA Economic Research Service recently published a report noting a 17 percent decline in income received by farmers and ranchers over the past seven years. It is calculated that farmers earn 15 cents for every dollar consumers pay for food products.

The low figure is strongly weighted by sharp declines in commodity prices. Concurrently with lower unit revenue for corn, soybeans and wheat, farmers are experiencing higher costs of production including fuel, seed and fertilizer. Fortunately, interest rates have remained low. Farmers have been impacted by trade disputes with China especially affecting soybeans.

In contrast, contract growers for major broiler integrators have not experienced any decline in their income with the companies absorbing cost increases in feed and other inputs and carrying the risks from disease and market fluctuation.


Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union commented “Conditions for farmers have been eroding since 2011. There’s only so much longer they can hold on. Many have already made the heartbreaking decision to close up shop. In the last five years, the United States have lost upwards of 700,000 farm operations and we cannot afford to lose many more.”

Regrettably in a free market economy, prices are determined by supply and demand. In past decades, there have been oversupplies of milk and more recently, eggs. It is axiomatic that low prices are the cure for low prices. If producers cease operation, supply is diminished and consumer demand will raise prices. Unfortunately, the U.S. produces an excess of soybeans and corn and is reliant on export markets. Accordingly, every effort should be made to support existing markets and to extend the range of importing countries.

The USAPEEC has managed to sustain acceptable levels of exports to the benefit of growers, processors and the allied industry in the face of extreme competition.

Copyright © 2020 Simon M. Shane