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WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 27, 2014, 09:59 PM

Crop farmer income drop

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Farms saw dramatic drops in income in 2013; prices plummeted, and costs climbed, making for a difficult year.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Farms saw dramatic drops in income in 2013; prices plummeted, and costs climbed, making for a difficult year.

Here in the Red River Valley, overall incomes were down about 85%, that's because we have so many crop farmers here in the Valley - and that's what was hit hardest.

But still, it may not be as bad as it seems.

Randy Melvin knows how drastically the business of farming can change from one year to the next.

Randy Melvin/Grain Farmer: "The dry weather from 2013 did affect our yields last year."

Still, Melvin says financially it was a "decent" year on his family's grain farm in Buffalo, thanks in part to crop insurance.

Melvin: "With the challenges that 2013 presented us, having a profitable year I consider a win."

Farms in North Dakota and Minnesota saw dramatic drops in income last year, largely because of a sharp drop in corn and other crop prices.

Net farm income in Minnesota was about $42,000 for a median farm that's down 78% from $189,000 in 2012.

North Dakota fared a little better, with about a 45% drop.

Andrew Swenson/NDSU Farm Resource Management: "Costs went up. We've had strong increases in costs probably costs have doubled on a per-acre basis in the last seven years."

But part of the reason the drop is so huge is the fact that 2012 was such an unusually good year.

Swenson: "It's the best year I've ever seen, the best year I ever expect to see."

Melvin agrees 2012 was once-in-a-lifetime.

But he says he's excited to see what this year will bring.

Melvin: "Going forward with this operation is trying to keep a positive attitude and looking for those opportunities."

In Minnesota, incomes for dairy, hog, and beef farms also declined, even though prices are up.

Researchers say that's because feed prices were high much of the year, and winterkill in alfalfa during the spring hurt dairy farms.

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