Farmers’ incomes not likely to improve in 2017

Supply and demand has hit Kansas farmers hard.
Supply and demand has hit Kansas farmers hard.

GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — Kansas farmers are facing a real dilemma as 2016 comes to a close.

Many are considering switching crops to try and increase their profits or in some cases, make a profit, because for many of them, the math doesn’t look good.

“For one farmer to grown one bushel of corn usually costs about four dollars and 20 cents per bushel,” said John Jenkinson, KSN’s agriculture expert. “Right now, for cash, he’s receiving only three dollars per bushel for that bushel of corn.”

Kansas farmers spent 2016 losing money, and 2017 isn’t looking any better. Because of record harvests, prices and incomes are likely to stay the same, if not worsen

“Can they go lower? Absolutely,” said Jenkinson. “Will they go lower? Chances are they might, but there’s no doubt that we’re going to stay at these depressed levels, at least for the next 12 months.”

He says it could take up to two years for things to turn around for farmers and described two scenarios that would help raise farmers’ incomes.

“A weakening dollar so that the United States farmer can remain competitive in a global market, or the other would have to be a major weather even somewhere that would reduce the crop supply or the livestock supply.”

He also said ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership would open up new markets to sell excess grain to.

While several Kansas farmers expressed the same hope for the TPP as Jenkinson, the incoming administration has been very vocal against the trade agreement.

It’s forcing farmers to adapt.

“They’re not planting as much high-input crops like corn and wheat,” said Jenkinson. “They’re going to turn to more profitable crops like soybeans or possibly sunflowers.”

With farmers sitting on excess wheat and corn, soybeans and sunflowers are looking like good alternatives, since they are in demand around the world.

Lots of rain in March is what saved the state’s crop.

The 2016 Kansas wheat harvest turned out to be the sixth largest crop in the state’s history. Farmers harvested a bin-buster 454 million bushels.

According to the state agriculture statistics, that’s up 41 percent over the 2015 harvest.