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1984 Net Farm Cash Income May Be At Or Below 1983 Levels, USDA Says

September 6, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A report by the Agriculture Department offers some new economic signposts to show where farmers have been and where they may be heading.

The department’s Economic Research Service said Thursday in a new outlook report that last year, the net cash income of farmers was around $39.1 billion, up from $38.3 billion in 1983. This year it would range from $34 billion to $39 billion.

Agency economists say net cash income is approximately the amount farmers have available during the year for buying new assets such as land and machinery, paying off loans and meeting operation expenses.

The figures involve the amount of money farmers have left over during the year after subtracting cash expenses from gross cash income. The tally includes receipts from sales of crops and livestock, cash government payments, the value of PIK or payment-in-kind benefits, and farm-related income such as custom work or machine hire.

The bookkeeping system used by the economists includes the net price support loans received by farmers from USDA’s Commodity Credit Corp. in the farm cash receipts category, the largest component of gross cash income.

For example, a farmer who takes out a wheat loan in July and keeps the money the rest of the year has that counted as part of his gross cash income for that year. The loan might be be repaid eventually - or the commodity forfeited - but that would be another year’s bookkeeping.

In any case, the cash income of farmers in 1984, although higher overall than in 1983, showed a wide variation among the different types of farming operations.

The net cash income of crop farms in 1984 was estimated at $23.3 billion, down $2.1 billion or 8 percent from 1983, the report said. That drop was blamed mostly on a decline in PIK benefits and higher cash expenses.

Livestock farms realized a net cash income last year of $15.9 billion, an increase of about $3 billion or 23 percent from 1983′s $12.9 billion, according to the report. Those included meat animal, dairy and poultry operations.

Some other observations made by agency economists:

-There were more than 2.33 million farms in operation last year, compared with 2.37 million in 1983. Crop farms accounted for about 1.07 million in 1984, compared with 1.09 million in 1983. Livestock farms, including ranches and feedlots, were put at 1.26 million last year and almost 1.28 million in 1983.

-About 601,000 cash grain farms accounted for less than $8.4 billion of net cash income last year, down 22 percent from $10.8 billion in 1983, largely because of rising production expenses and reduced government crop benefits.

-The 22,000 cotton farms had a 1984 net cash income estimated at $1.37 billion, down 16 percent from $1.64 billion in 1983, due to lower government payments and a rise in expenses.

-Tobacco farmers, about 135,000 of them, had a net cash income of $996 million, down 8 percent from almost $1.09 billion in 1983.

-Dairy farmers were shown at a 1984 net cash income of $5.76 billion, down 4 percent from $6.01 billion in 1983. There were 172,000 in operation last year.

-Some 945,000 cattle, hog and sheep units, including farms, ranches and feedlots, had a net cash income of $5.33 billion last year, up 15 percent from $4.63 billion in 1983.

-Poultry and egg farms, about 44,000 units, were shown at $3.97 billion, more than double 1983′s $1.7 billion.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Agriculture Department says a white-faced European breed of sheep noted for its lean meat will be produced for the first time in the United States to see what impact it might have on the lagging U.S. sheep industry.

Department scientists at the department’s animal research center in Clay Center, Neb., imported the breed, Texel, from Finland and Denmark. The animals, including 31 lambs, are in quarantine for five years to make sure no diseases are introduced, the USDA said Thursday.

Robert Oltjen, director of the center, said one possibility could be the Texel becoming a new source of low-fat lamb for consumers.

In any case, Americans prefer other meats by a wide margin, according to USDA figures. The per capita consumption of beef, for example, is expected to average 77.3 pounds of retail weight this year; pork, 60.9 pounds; veal, 1.8 pounds; and lamb and mutton, 1.4 pounds.

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WASHINGTON (AP) - A Nebraska farmer who started driving a team and wagon across the country in June plans to lead a parade here next week and then auction his horses to the highest bidder, a spokesman says.

Doug Nebel of the Farm Crisis Committee, an action group based at Emerson, Neb., said in a telephone interview that Alan Olson’s cross-country wagon trip will be topped off Sept. 10 with a parade in Washington, winding up at either the Capitol or the White House.

The trek and the parade is part of grassroots efforts to put pressure on Congress to pass a new farm bill. ″We need better than what we have now,″ Nebel said.

Although no estimates were available on what size of demonstration might be expected, Nebel said organizers have had support from some East Coast farmers, including American Agriculture Movement Inc. members in Virginia and North Carolina.