Wisconsin farmers have emerged from the Great Recession with record incomes.
A new report from U-W Madison said the state's net farm income was two-point-four billion dollars in 2011 -- 17-percent higher than the previous year, and three times what it was in the recession-plagued 2009. Soaring market prices for corn-and-soybeans were the big reason for the increase. But profits fell for many dairy-and-livestock farmers who had to buy more expensive feed. The U-W report also said farmers had an average of 10-percent more working capital last year, indicating good profitability. The total value of crops and other assets, minus bills and short-term debts, was just over four-point-six billion dollars statewide. Farmland values jumped 17-percent by the end of September, compared to the prevous year. But farm debts grew a little, as the average Wisconsin farmer owed 11 cents for every dollar of assets. Still, that's about half what it was during the farm crisis of the 1980's. U-W ag economists
predict that farm profit margins will get tighter in 2012. Grain prices are expected to stay high -- but milk prices could drop 6-to-10-percent.