Well, not this year.
The state's wheat harvest was the worst in decades, down 26 percent from last year, according to the
As a result, the price for corn has fallen more than a
And in the livestock sector, feedlots and packing plants have seen the fewest cattle in decades, as ranchers who cut herds in the drought are now holding back heifers for breeding.
It's part of the DNA of farmers and ranchers to know that some years will be good and some will be bad. After several great years for farm incomes, it won't be John Cougar Mellencamp "Rain on the Scarecrow" bad, but farmers do expect to take a substantial hit in income this year.
"This will be a belt-tightening year," said
According to the
That bought a lot of tractors and helped drive up land prices from 2010 through 2013. But not this year.
"It's going to affect us, and it's going to affect
Most farmers, he said, hopefully planned for the down years.
"We'll just kind of ride it out, make do," he said.
The ripple effect already is being felt across businesses related to agriculture.
Some bigger farms are still buying new, he said, but the smaller ones are holding back in anticipation of less cash. That has cut into the amount of used equipment flowing through the market for sale.
"We're having to readjust our budgets a little," he said. "But most folks are not panicking. If you look at the ag equipment industry, it's used to peaks and valleys. We knew we were eventually were going to have a downturn. All the farmers and dealers are bracing ourselves for it."
"Still," he added, "to have the industry make the turn (down) and then, on top of that, have a historic drought in the Midwest ... just makes it that much more -- exciting."
Agricultural economists say the down year will show itself in a number of ways: lower equipment sales, drops in farmland rental rates and sale prices, a reduction in available credit as asset values fall, higher inventories at grain elevators as farmers hold on to their crops and wait for higher prices, and farmers switching acreage from corn to soybeans.
The fall in crop prices is actually good news to some segments of the ag economy.
Livestock producers, including the state's ranchers, are likely to perform much better financially, said economists. The feed for livestock is cheaper now.
Ranchers are beginning to rebuild their herds, and the number of cattle going to slaughter is the lowest in decades. That means the profit per head is large, estimated by an economist in December to be about
The impact of the tough year for crop farmers won't be obvious to most Kansans because relatively few people depend directly on agriculture for their income. But that understates agriculture's true value: It underpins much of the state's rural economy and constitutes one of the state's sources of direct wealth, where products are sold outside the immediate area rather than traded inside of it. This means it generates spillover into other sectors.
The downturn in agriculture could mean slower growth in the overall
"That has ramifications for the
He estimated that
Briggeman said that if the price for a bushel for corn falls to
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