Record spring wheat yields, the second-highest annual profit for cow-calf producers, an increase in government payments and lower crop production costs.
Sounds like the start of a good-news story for our neighbours south of the border, but North Dakota State University says last year’s profit for farmers in the state fell to the lowest level in nearly two decades. Low crop prices more than offset all the other positives.
In a release, NDSU said the average farm profit for 525 farms in the 2015 North Dakota Farm Business Management education program state report was $28,600, compared with $76,404 in 2014 and $133,466 in 2013.
Median net farm income, probably a better measure of the typical farm, was $18,999, compared with $54,666 in 2014 and $91,650 in 2013. Net farm income is measured in accrual terms. It includes changes in inventories.
The statewide average net return per acre on cash-rented ground was minus $25 for spring wheat, minus $24 for soybeans and minus $50 for corn.
For smaller-acreage crops, it was minus $27 for canola, minus $25 for pinto beans and minus $14 for flax.
Returns on the positive side included $23 for oil sunflowers and a strong $60- to $90-per-acre profit on cash-rented ground for barley, confection sunflowers, durum wheat, field peas and sugar beets.
The beef cow-calf enterprise profit averaged $288 per cow and was the second highest ever, although it was a fraction of the $660 all-time high in 2014.