Statement by Secretary Vilsack on the release of the Farm Financial Forecasts for 2011
WASHINGTON, February 14, 2011 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today made the following statement on the release of the Farm Financial Forecasts of 2011:
Today's report predicting strong financial performance in the agriculture sector for 2011 is good news for producers and indicates that economic improvement is underway in much of rural America. Potential record or near record prices for commodities like corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton reflects the fact that our trading partners continue a strong demand for food and fiber produced by America's farmers. President Obama has called on America to 'win the future' and today's report is an indication that our farmers continue to be the most productive in the world.
I am heartened that net farm income is projected to increase about 20 percent, or almost $16 billion, from the previous forecast. That's the second highest figure since the mid-1970's. OR as we stated in the briefing room the second highest inflation-adjusted value for net farm income recorded in the past 35 years.
Also, farm asset values are up and farm household income for 2010 and 2011 is expected to increase after falling in recent years. The increase in income is accompanied by a corresponding drop in government payments to the lowest figure since 1997. This shows that the safety net, which helps producers in times of low commodity prices, is working as intended.
While overall the report is positive, especially for producers of grains and fiber, it is a concern that farmers continue to face an increase in expenses for key inputs, including feed, fertilizer and fuel. Additionally, after a strong recovery in 2010, the report projects a revenue decline for livestock farm businesses in 2011 and continued income and loan repayment concerns for dairy farmers. Higher feed costs are a primary factor.
Still, the report's projection that net cash farm income will exceed the recent historical high of 2005 is an indication that America's overall farm economy is improving, especially in the Heartland and in the Mississippi River region. The Obama Administration has focused on helping farmers and rural small businesses find profitability in the marketplace and success in the global economy. Today's report is an indication that effort is succeeding.