University of Wisconsin agricultural economists and farm leaders gather each January in Madison, Wis., to look back at the previous year and look forward to the coming year at the annual Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum. This year’s event was held Jan. 25 at Union South at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
2021 was a great year for crops in Wisconsin, according to UW-Madison ag economist Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute.
“Despite much of southern Wisconsin experiencing a drought, corn silage averaged 21 tons to the acre across the state, which set a record,” Mitchell said. “We also had a lot of hay last summer following three years in a row where we had record-low stocks of hay.”
Mitchell said corn also yielded an average of 180 bushels per acre, and soybean yields were strong too.
Farm income in 2021 was 24% above the 20-year average.
“That means the average Wisconsin farmer is going into 2022 in a solid position,” Mitchell said. “So, what are farmers doing with all of this money? They are paying down debt. Where is the income coming from? Primarily from selling things like corn and soybeans for more money. And CFAP [Coronavirus Food Assistance Program] pushed out a lot of money to farmers last year.”
Mitchell noted that farmland values in Wisconsin rose 10.7% in 2021, adding, “Illinois land values rose 15% last year, and Iowa farmland jumped 34% in one year.”
But Mitchell said farmers are facing a few headwinds in 2022.
“The cost of production is up 25% for fertilizer, fuel and other crop inputs,” he reported. Mitchell said the price of fertilizer has tripled from $500 per ton to $1,500 a ton. But even with higher costs of production, he said farmers can still make money producing crops.
Mitchell admitted, all is not rosy in America’s Dairyland.
“Inflation rose 7.1% between January 2021 and January 2022,” he said. “We’ve lost about one-third of the state’s dairy farms in the last seven years. And we still lead the nation in Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings.”
Mitchell said the No. 1 thing he is concerned about is the potential for widespread drought in Wisconsin this year.
“Madison is about 13 inches behind in moisture, and Milwaukee is about 10 inches behind,” he said.
Optimistic about dairy
Mark Stephenson, director of dairy policy analysis and the Center for Dairy Profitability at UW-Madison, predicted 2022 will be a good year for dairy farmers.
Stephenson said domestic demand has …….