IMPORTANT: It's a Serious Matter of Life

Higher farm prices are good, but higher fuel prices hurting farmers

Midwest farmers are getting more for just about everything they produce, in some cases a lot more, but they are also paying a lot more for what they need.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture price report for April in Wisconsin shows farmers are getting higher prices for milk, corn, hay, oats, and soybeans.

Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation President Kevin Krentz said higher prices are a relief after a few tough years for Wisconsin farmers.

“Farmers see higher commodity prices as an opportunity to regain losses from the previous five years,” Krentz said.

The USDA report says Wisconsin farmers got $8.20 more per hundred pounds of milk in April of this year compared to April of 2021. Farmers got $1.74 more per bushel of corn, $1.60 more per bushel of soybeans, $2.39 more per bushel of oats, and $3.00 more per ton of hay compared to last year as well.

But Krentz said farmers are also paying more for the things they need.

“A farm can only make a profit when expenses are lower than the income. Fuel, fertilizer and labor have all increased in the past year significantly and will greatly affect the profit margins on farms this year,” he added. “Inflation is real. When we go to the store or purchase off Amazon, everything costs more.”

Higher fuel prices, Krentz said, are eating away at farm profits.

“Fuel prices impact farms in a big way. Some large tractors have fuel tanks up to 300 gallons and use that in a day. Between field work, planting and harvesting crops, hauling manure, feeding animals, and cleaning the pens, fuel prices directly impact farms in a big way,” Krentz said.

Krentz added that he is worried about the big picture for Wisconsin farmers this year, despite the higher prices for what they produce.

“This year is different. It is the availability of inputs that stress farmers. There is an exceedingly small window to plant crops and harvest. Not having a part for a broken down piece of equipment or not having fertilizer for the crop can greatly affect the production of the crop in the fall. Add to that the low unemployment rate and the lack of people available to work driving up labor costs for farms,” Krentz said. “All of this will directly impact profitability of farms in 2022.”

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