Report: Farmers shelled out more in expenses in 2020

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
From the fertilizers spread on the fields to the feed that nourishes the herd and the property tax bill, farmers had to dig a bit deeper into their pockets to farm in 2020.

From the fertilizers spread on the fields to the feed that nourishes the herd and the property tax bill at the end of the year, farmers had to dig a bit deeper into their pockets to farm in 2020.

According to the USDA's Farm Production Expenditure report, total farm production expenditures in the U.S. were estimated at $366.2 billion in 2020, up from $357.8 billion in 2019, or 2.3 percent. Wisconsin farmers shelled out $10.8 billion in farm expenditures last year, nearly 3 percent more than the year before.

The Midwest region contributed most to the U.S. total expenditures with expenses of $112.8 billion (30.8 percent), up from $111.5 billion in 2019. 

The four largest expenditures nationally totaling $177.8 billion and accounting for nearly 49 percent of total expenditures in 2020 include feed (15.5 percent), farm services (12.2 percent), livestock, poultry and related expenses (10.8 percent) and labor (10 percent).

Wisconsin farmers also saw feed and farm services as the two biggest expenditures last year with feed costs – 21 percent of total expenditures – totaling $2.28 billion up 6 percent and farm services – 13.7 percent of total expenditures – totaling $1.4 billion up 1 percent. Other areas experiencing increases include: chemicals, fertilizers, property taxes, farm machinery, farm supplies and repair.

Producers did experience a decrease in expenses in the areas of fuel, livestock, labor, rent and interest in 2020.

According to the analysis, the average U.S. farm paid $28,250 on feed; $22,232 on farm services, $19,695 on livestock, poultry and related expenses and $18,253 on labor. In comparison, Wisconsin farmers averaged $35,404 on feed costs; $22,981for farm services; $11,801 on fertilizer; and $15,062 for labor.

The largest percentage increases in expenditures from the prior year were Other farm machinery (up 36 percent); tractors and self-propelled farm machinery (up 35 percent);  and miscellaneous capital expenses (up 25 percent). Notable decreases were fuel expenditures (down 16 percent); livestock, poultry and other related expenses (down 15 percent) and labor (down 14 percent).