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Bad weather, trade wars, keep lid on Minnesota farm income

ST. PAUL — Minnesota farmers struggled to make a profit in 2019 as bad weather and trade wars combined to keep a lid on incomes for yet another year, according to a report released Thursday.

Median net farm income was up slightly from 2018 but still low at $36,211. according to the annual report from University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota State colleges and universities system. Income in each of the past five years has fallen in the bottom third of historical records tracked by the report.

“Farming as a business is far from profitable,” said Keith Olander of the Minnesota State Northern Agricultural Center of Excellence. “Minnesota farmers are in need of a good year.”

The report found 28 percent of farms lost money, 45 percent lost working capital and 46 percent did not earn enough to cover scheduled debt payments.

“More than in most years, earnings depended on where you lived, how much it rained and how much your commodities were impacted by trade issues,” said Dale Nordquist of the University of Minnesota’Center for Farm Financial Management.

The median income of $36,600 for crop farms would have been far worse had it not been for payments under the federal Market Facilitation Program to producers hurt by the trade wars, the report said.

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