Ag Chat with Scott Schultz - December 14

ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU)- The Farm Credit Administration board says American farm income is down in 2018. The FCA's quarterly report yesterday said net cash farm income was down 8 percent, despite favorable economic conditions for domestic and foreign demand for ag products. Increasing production costs and trade-policy uncertainty - especially where China is concerned - were cited as the primary causes for the drop. The report also said marketing opportunities for cash grains could be limited, putting more financial pressures onto corn and soybean farmers. Poor margins also have been forcing some high-cost dairy producers to liquidate their herds, according to the report. Cow-calf producers have seen some moderate profits during the past two years. The farm credit system overall remains safe and financially sound, the report said.

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Reaction continues to flow from state ag leaders concerning the federal Farm Bill passed this week by the House and Senate. Wisconsin Farmers Union president Darin Von Ruden said yesterday that his organization is happy to see support for programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, and that replacement of the dairy Margin Protection Program could help smaller-scale producers. However, Von Ruden said he was disappointed that a proposal to limit Title I payments to people actually farming was left out of the bill. He added that the bill won't be a silver bullet to solve what he sees as a farm crisis, and that ag community and political leaders have important work to do in helping farmers dig out from under a depressed farm economy. The Farm Bill still needs to be signed by President Trump.

The Milwaukee-based Children's Hospital of Wisconsin has named its new state-of-the-art training facility after a group of dairy producers who helped raise more than $1 million for the medical center. The new Dairy Cares of Wisconsin Simulation Lab is designed for medical professionals to learn and sharpen their skills in a 2,000-square-foot learning area. Dairy Cares is a non-profit organization founded eight years ago by leaders in the dairy industry. The organization's leadership said they chose to support Children's Hospital of Wisconsin because of its wide reach in Wisconsin, with facilities in 40 locations.