USDA Forecasts Decline in Net Farm Income for 2024 - Cowsmo

USDA Forecasts Decline in Net Farm Income for 2024

In a recent report released on February 7, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provided its initial insights into the expected net farm income for the year 2024. The forecast signals a substantial downturn, projecting a decrease from the 2023 forecast of $155 billion to $116 billion, marking a significant drop of nearly $40 billion or 25.5%. This marks the largest recorded year-to-year dollar decrease in net farm income and follows the downward trend observed since the peak in 2022.

Adjusted for inflation, the anticipated decline in net farm income reaches 27%, or $43 billion, from the previous year. If realized, this would place 2024 net farm income below the 20-year average (2003-2022) in inflation-adjusted dollars. The report attributes a major portion of this decline to an expected $21 billion drop in cash receipts for agricultural goods and a simultaneous $17 billion increase in production expenses, explaining 95% of the forecasted decrease.

The USDA’s December 2023 report had initially projected net farm income for 2023 at $151 billion, which was later revised slightly upward to $156 billion. The consecutive decline in net farm income aligns with the diminishing farmer sentiment, reflecting lower expectations for commodity prices in 2024. However, the USDA emphasizes that this early measure of farm financial health is subject to change, with numerous factors set to shape supply and demand conditions over the next 11 months.

A notable aspect of the report is the estimated 16% decrease in direct government payments, totaling just over $10 billion and constituting about 9% of net farm income. Ad hoc and supplemental program payments, including those from the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) and other designated disaster programs, are expected to decrease by 11%, amounting to $5.84 billion. This reduction is partly attributed to limited additional funds for ERP to cover 2022 disaster losses.

Commodity insurance indemnities, forecasted at $20.78 billion, are expected to be slightly lower in 2024 compared to 2023. However, this figure remains well above the prior 10-year average. The increased participation in crop insurance programs, driven by ERP requirements, contributes to additional indemnities as farmers actively manage their risks.

In the crop sector, cash receipts are anticipated to decline by $21 billion, with a significant portion attributed to a 14% decrease in corn receipts. The livestock sector is also expected to face challenges, with total animal product receipts forecasted to decrease by $4.6 billion, primarily driven by a $1.6 billion drop in cattle and calves receipts.

Behind these challenges is the rise in production expenses, projected to increase by 4% or $16.7 billion over 2023, reaching a record high of $455 billion. Higher costs across various categories, including marketing, storage, transportation, labor, pesticides, and interest expenses, contribute to this significant increase.

In conclusion, the USDA’s early forecast for 2024 net farm income underscores the challenging economic landscape faced by farmers. As uncertainties persist, the need for clarity on regulations and access to comprehensive risk management options becomes crucial for the agricultural community. The upcoming farm bill debate gains significance, offering an opportunity for farmers and ranchers to influence legislation that could impact the resilience of the U.S. food supply.

Source: The American Farm Bureau Federation

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