Federal Reserve: Farm income continues to decline this fall

OMAHA, Neb. — The Federal Reserve says farm income continued to decline across the Plains and western states this fall because crop prices remain weak.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Mo., said more than half the bankers in the region say that farm income is lower than last year because the ongoing trade dispute has hurt crop prices.

The bankers say farmers are borrowing more money because their costs are increasing at the same time that they are bringing in less income.

The 10th Federal Reserve District covers Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, northern New Mexico and western Missouri.

Depressed milk prices forcing more farmers out of operation

DES MOINES, Iowa — Agribusiness experts say high production costs and low commodity prices are forcing more dairy farmers out of business in Iowa and other states.

Experts said the global flood of milk has depressed prices to about half what they were in 2014, and they still haven’t hit all-time lows.

Iowa is the nation’s 10th-largest milk producer, with 1,150 dairy farms, and it’s lost about 80 dairy operations this year — nearly 7 percent, the Des Moines Register reported.

University of Wisconsin-Madison dairy policy analyst Mark Stephenson said U.S. production has continued to increase despite the large number of dairy cows being culled from herds. He says the U.S. needs a significant increase in exports to bring about a dramatic improvement in prices — something he doesn’t see “on the horizon.”

University of Minnesota Extension helps struggling farmers

MINNEAPOLIS — The University of Minnesota Extension is providing free help to farmers who may be struggling in an agricultural economic downturn.

The extension’s Farm Information Line is connecting farmers with retired agricultural financial and business experts who will provide analysis and advice, the Minnesota Daily reported.

Kevin Klair is an agricultural economist with extension. He said the extension began the program more than a year ago to help address farmers’ growing concerns about financial burdens.

Extension Associate Dean Michael Schmitt says low crop prices and poor weather during the planting and growing season have hurt Minnesota farmers over the last few years.

The line has helped more than 100 farmers. Klair says more farmers are expected to utilize the counseling resource as the end of this year’s harvest approaches.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell says hemp provision will be in farm bill

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Negotiators in Congress have struggled to finish work on a new farm bill, but the Senate’s top Republican guarantees the final version will include one of his priorities — legalization of hemp.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that completing work on a new farm bill looms as one of his top priorities when Congress reconvenes for a lame-duck session.

Work to reauthorize key farm programs has slowed over work requirements for food stamps.

But McConnell said one provision certain to be in the final farm bill is one to fully legalize hemp. The Kentucky Republican is a key negotiator in the House-Senate conference committee crafting the final bill.

Hemp is a versatile crop that’s been making a comeback in Kentucky and elsewhere.

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