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Tough times on the farm

It has been evident that times have been tough on farmers over the past few years. Just how tough became evident in a report released this week by the Minnesota Extension and the state.

The state’s analysis found that Minnesota farm incomes hit a new low in 2018, the lowest in the 23 years the state has been tracking farm income.

The report shows Minnesota farms have earned their lowest median income during that 28 years, adjusted for inflation. The net income reported was just over $26,000, down eight percent from the previous year. The lower third of farm operations lost money.

Farmers can’t keep going out and working all year, assuming all that risk, for an average $26,000. It’s worse for dairy farmers, wehre the median income dropped from $43,000 to less than $15,000. Many dairy farmers have sold off their herds. And once a herd is sold off, it’s unlikely the dairy operation will be starting up again.

There are a lot of successful farm operations. The top 20 percent in the study averaged $184,000 in annual income in 2018. But the stress on the rest of the farm community is considerable.

Farmers have suffered through tough times before, but they can use all the help they can get from government trade policies and support programs that should be geared to those most in need.

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