MFU statement on UMN farm income report
March 25, 2019
In 2018, Minnesota farmers earned less than half the average American yearly income.
That’s according to a report released today by the University of Minnesota Extension, compiling statistics gathered by the university and Minnesota State Agricultural Centers of Excellence of farm income from Farm Business Management participants. Adjusted for inflation, the report found that Minnesota farms earned the lowest median farm income in the past 23 years of data tracking in 2018. The reported median net income was $26,055, a decrease of 8 percent from 2017, with some farmers losing up to $72,000. The scope of the data represents about 10 percent of Minnesota’s commercial farmers.
In contrast, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American makes about $56,000 a year.
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU), the state’s second-largest general farm organization, has seen this trend of low farm income for the past five years and heard from members who face difficult business decisions as a result. MFU President Gary Wertish said:
“The University of Minnesota report on farm income is not surprising, but it’s still disappointing and frustrating. Family farmers are some of the hardest working people out there and yet increasingly are unable to make a living doing what they love.
“Milk prices have fallen yet again, and the market is overflowing with milk. Pork and soybean producers have been hit by the president’s trade war. Crop producers have faced erratic weather that drives down yields and income. This situation has put great mental stress on our farmers and farmworkers, as well as hurting rural communities.
“State and federal lawmakers can help by providing a strong farm safety net so family farmers can make it through these tough times. They can end the trade war and work cooperatively with other nations to create fair agreements. They can work to stop the rampant agribusiness consolidation that is driving up input costs for farmers, with less competition in the marketplace. And they can enact reforms that take the burdens of health care costs off the backs of many family farmers who rely on the individual market.
“If we want family agriculture to survive, our policymakers need to take action.”
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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org).