Bad news about farms; they need win on trade

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 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 8 percent from the previous year. The lower third of farm operations lost money.

Farmers cannot keep going out and working all year, assuming all that risk, for an average $26,000.

It’s worse for dairy farmers, whose 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 and are not immune from economic cycles or government obstacles. Farmers could use a win on the trade front, i.e. the settling of the dispute between the U.S. and China. They also deserve a break from onerous taxes and regulations that especially hurt these days.

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