An agricultural leader in Nebraska says farmers and ranchers here are indeed suffering financially, but many have the means to keep holding out, for now.
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson says with commodity prices still lagging, the agricultural economy is at best, tight.
“There is little to no margin in most of the things that farmers and ranchers produce in Nebraska right now,” Nelson tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Nelson says producers who own their land and have little debt can absorb the losses. It is harder for younger producers carrying heavier debt loads.
“I think that everyone is watching their pocketbook very close trying to be very careful to be as conservative as they can in their spending,” Nelson says.
Nelson says a lot of factors have played a role in the decline of the agricultural economy. He says resolving trade issues with Nebraska’s two largest trade partners, Mexico and Canada, would help greatly.
Agriculture enjoyed historic high commodity prices in 2011 and 2012. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City disclosed grain prices remain weak while livestock prices seem to be rebounding. The bright spot for agriculture: land prices. The Fed says farmland values remain strong, dropping only 3% in the first quarter.
The Fed reports the decline in farm income in the first quarter of this year has not been as steep as in the past, certainly not as bad as in 2016, the worst of the recent downturn. The downturn in the agricultural economy began in the second quarter of 2013.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]