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Wisconsin farmers see rise in production expenditures in 2019

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
It cost more to feed old Bossie last year. Feed expense, which increased 20% to $2.15 billion, represented the largest single production expense in Wisconsin in 2019, accounting for 20% of the total. Nationally, farmers spent an average of $29,478 on feed while Wisconsin farmers paid $33,128.

Farmers had to tighten their belts another notch last year thanks to increased production expenditures and less income from commodities. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wisconsin farm production expenditures totaled $10.6 billion in 2019 - an increase of 5% over 2018 expenses.

Feed expense, which increased 20% to $2.15 billion, represented the largest single production expense in Wisconsin in 2019, accounting for 20% of the total. Nationally, farmers spent an average of $29,478 on feed while their Wisconsin counterparts paid out $33,128.

Farm services which include crop custom work, veterinarian costs, marketing charges, insurance, leasing of machinery and equipment, utilities and general expenses made up 14% of the overall output, averaging $22,650 - up 5% over the previous year.

Labor costs, the third largest expense on the farm, was up slightly from 2018. Wisconsin farmers paid out an average of $17,411 in 2019. The national average for labor expense was $16,775.

The largest percentage of decreases were Livestock, Poultry and Related Expenses, down 46%, Miscellaneous Capital Expenses (down 20%) and Agricultural Chemical (down 6%).

Items that saw the largest percentage increases over 2018 were for Trucks and Autos (up 100%), Other Farm Machinery (up 38%), Farm Improvements and Construction (up 25%) and Feed.

Faced with falling commodity prices due in part to trade wars between the U.S. and China, farmers received less for the commodity crops in 2019. Unfortunately the trend has continued into 2020 where far reaching impacts of the global pandemic have touched almost every facet of the ag industry.

The June 2020 average price received by farmers for corn in Wisconsin was $3.16 per bushel according to the USDA report. While this was up 7 cents from May, the price was still 73 cents below the previous June. 

June soybean prices also lagged behind last year's prices, with the June price at $8.19 per bushel, down 3 cents from the previous year. Last month's oat price was $3.37 per bushel, up 14 cents from May but 14 cents below June 2019.

All hay prices in Wisconsin average $154.00 per ton in June, down $8.00 from May and $59.00 below June 2019. The alfalfa hay price average $159.00 per ton in June, down $4.00 from May and $60.00 below the previous June.

The June average price for milk was $19.50 per cwt., up $5.90 from May and $1.60 from June a year ago. However, depooling and negative Producer Price Differentials may have negatively impacted the price some farmers were paid.