GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – A study released by the Kansas Farm Management Association showed, on average, farmers’ incomes rose for the first time since 2012, despite dropping incomes in western parts of the state.
For a five year average, southwest Kansas farmers cleared more than $87,000 compared to more than $126,000 for those in the southeast part of the state.
“Last year, we had a low price,” said Garden City farmer Boyd Funk, “but in southwest Kansas, in dryland, wheat and sorghum, we had good yields.”
Funk says unusually high grain yields last year helped him get by despite low prices.
“We’ve had very good prices five years ago and then the last few years the prices have been dropping.”
They dropped because of those high yields and grain excess.
“We need another market,” said Funk. “We’re growing so much that…we have to export half the wheat that we grow.”
For Funk, trade deals are important now more than ever to sell off excess grain. He’s worried what might happen with NAFTA.
Renegotiations on the trade deal are set to begin in August.
“We load trains in Garden City we can rail to Mexico, so it’s really a good market for us,” said Funk. “With this administration, we don’t know what’s going to happen with Mexico, and everybody’s a little nervous.”
Southeast Kansas farmers saw an increase of about $90,000 to their net income from 2015 to 2016.
Conditions in the region meant lower input costs for farmers.
“Because they’re predominantly more of a soybean and a grain sorghum producer, they probably took advantages of some of the marketing opportunities that the rest of the state didn’t have,” said John Jenkinson, KSN’s Ag expert.
Meanwhile, grain producers continue to face uncertain futures, between unpredictable trade policies and grain prices.
“It’s encouraging that we’re starting to see some of these incomes improve,” said Jenkinson, “but we still have a long way to go.”
The latest information shows that nearly a third of the state’s wheat crop is in trouble.
A government update found that 25 percent is in poor or very poor condition.
Thirty percent is listed in fair, while 38 percent is in good condition.
Only seven percent is rated as excellent.
Officials found that hail northwest Kansas damaged more wheat recently.