Poll: Farmers Cutting Back as Incomes Drop

John DavisUSDA

agripulseSoybean farmers in Iowa are cutting back on expenses as they see their farm incomes drop for a second year in a row. The survey by Agri-Pulse and conducted in partnership with the Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) shows nearly three out of four farmers (73 percent) expect their farm financial outlook to worsen in 2015 – with more than 53 percent expecting it to worsen “slightly” while almost 20 percent think it will worsen “a great deal.”

“The simple truth is margins are going to be tighter this year,” says ISA President Tom Oswald of Cleghorn, Iowa. “This poll confirms what farmers, ag manufacturers and biotech organizations have already been feeling.”

Seventy-seven percent of poll respondents also expect farmland values to decline in 2015, up slightly from 75 percent in 2014.

About the same percentage of farmers as last year said they plan to purchase more or continue to carry about the same level of crop insurance this year (86 percent in 2015 compared to 87 percent in 2014).

Almost 54 percent said they’d cut back on equipment expenses compared to 58 percent last year. One-third of respondents will reduce fertilizer expenses while 15 percent said they would scale back on purchases of crop chemicals.

Twenty-three percent of farmers will cut back on seed expenses compared to 8 percent a year ago.

The gloomy outlook by Iowa farmers seems to track with what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is projecting: a drop in net farm incomes of 32 percent – from $108 billion in 2014 to $73.6 billion this year. That would make 2015 net farm income the lowest since 2009 and a drop of nearly 43 percent from the record high of $129 billion in 2013.

Agri-Pulse says the news also underscores the need for a supportive farm safety net in the 2014 farm bill.

The poll was taken April 5 with 112 Iowa farmers responding to the unaided 11-question poll.