ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- No matter what the final decisions are on the future of trade agreements between the U.S. and our trading partners, USDA economists are already predicting our foreign sales of agricultural products will be down by $800 million next year. Drops in both corn and cotton sales are expected to be the biggest reasons for the drop. Corn exports are expected to be off by $1.6 billion because of lower volumes and lower crop values. Our foreign cotton sales are forecast to be down by $1.3 billion because of more competition and lower prices. Total U.S. agricultural exports are expected to total $139 billion in 2018.
In spite of that report, USDA economists are expecting a slight uptick in farm income for 2017. They say the jump will be almost $2 billion from last year to $63.4 billion this year. And the increase will come from an almost $10 billion increase in crop sales. But that expected increase will still be well below the 2010 to 2015 period when net farm income was over $100 billion a year, peaking in 2013 at $131.3 billion.
The condition of the corn crop around the country continues to be a concern. This week's Crop Progress Report shows the crop is behind average as just 92% of the plants have reached the dough stage and only 60% of the crop has dented while 12% has reached maturity. And the overall crop condition fell 1% over the past week as just 61% of the corn is now rated good to excellent. But the soybean crop is looking a little better. 97% of the plants are setting pods and 11% are dropping leaves. Overall the crop is rated 61% good to excellent, the same as a week ago. This week's report also shows 89% of the spring wheat has been harvested, 92% of the barley and 91% of the oats.
In Wisconsin 72% of the corn is now rated good to excellent, up 3% from last week, with 79% of the crop now in the dough stage and 33% is now dented. There were also a few reports of mature corn already being chopped for silage. Soybeans this week are rated 75% good to excellent with 95% of the plants setting pods with 12% of the plants turning color. State farmers have also put up 94% of their third crop and 45% of their fourth crop hay, harvested 86% of their oats and 35% of the fall potato crop.
Wisconsin's dairy industry is pitching in to help victims of the floods in Texas. Working with the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, state cheese makers have put together a 17,000 pound shipment of cheese to go to food banks in the Houston area. The Houston Food Bank is the biggest one in the country and distributes food to 18 counties in Southeast Texas.