Ag Chat with Bob Bosold - Nov. 30

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Farmers have had a tough time showing black on the bottom line the past few years and while 2017 won't be a turn-around year, it is expected to be a better financial year for farmers. USDA economists are now saying net farm income will total $63.2 billion this year-up 2.7% from 2016. But they also add that increasing farm input costs will mostly make that gain a wash on the bottom line. The livestock sector is expected to see financial gains this year of about 7 and a half percent when compared to last year while crop producers' incomes are expected to fall by 2%. All cash livestock receipts are projected to total $365 billion this year, a jump of 8.6 billion while cash receipts for crops is pegged at $190 billion-a drop of $3.8 billion from last year.

Photo: RichardBH / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 / MGN

The value of farmland across the country was relatively flat this year. According to the USDA's Land Value Summary, the average price of cropland was unchanged from a year ago at $4,090 an acre and the third highest on record. Regionally, the Southern Plains of Texas and Oklahoma saw the largest increase in cropland values-up about 6% while the Plains states of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas saw land values drop about 4 and a half percent. Across the heart of the corn belt-states like Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio-cropland prices dropped as much as 4% this year. In Wisconsin, cropland increased in value by over 6%--averaging $5,200 an acre while Minnesota cropland increased by just over 1% to $4,800 an acre. Pastureland across the country increased in value by $20 an acre. With an average price of $1,350 an acre pasture land is at the highest level it's ever been according to this report. In the Midwest, thought, the value of pasture land went down almost 2% led by an 8.8% drop in Iowa. Wisconsin pasture ground went up over 2% in value this year to $2,350 an acre while Minnesota saw a 3% jump to $1,700 an acre. Midwestern bankers say they expect farmland values to fall another 3 and a half percent in 2018.

More milk is coming back to the school lunch programs around the country. That's because Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has put in place an interim rule that will let the schools again serve low-fat 1% flavored milk as part of the National school lunch and breakfast programs. Back in 2012, the Obama Administration took away the option to serve the milk in school cafeterias citing unsubstantiated obesity issues among school kids. From 2012 through 2015, that Obama era decision meant school kids drank 288 million fewer half pints of milk. Schools will be able to start serving the milk once again at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.

Fair time is still about 7 or 8 months away but one fair is in the news. The Central Wisconsin State Fair at Marshfield is changing its dates for 2018. Fair officials are moving the fair up one week to run from August 21st through the 26th rather than during the week of Labor Day. That means the fair will have a 6 day run next year, losing the 7th day provided by the Labor Day holiday. The fair's executive director Dale Christiansen, said the change is needed to try and reverse the steady decline in attendance the fair has seen since 2012. Another major change at next year's fair, Christiansen added, will be a new amusement company that will provide more and better rides. The new changes will also include a $1 jump in ticket prices-with adult tickets going to $10 with no more teen pricing.

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