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David Sparks Ph.d OR Net Farm Income
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: February 20, 2017

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Oregon farmers and ranchers have generally seen a better bottom line in their balance sheet thanks to steady agricultural production and prices combined with an overall drop in expenses. The assessment is based on the latest statistics available from USDA that shows a net farm income for Oregon of $1.2 billion for 2015. Jim Johnson of the Oregon Department of Agriculture says it’s that decrease in the expense categories that makes the big difference:

 “Overall, the cost of labor to their operations is down as a general rule. Energy costs are down– fuel costs. Several other tangibles, but those are the two big ones.”  

 Overall labor costs decreased 21 percent in 2015. Despite a relatively small drop in production value, the net farm income is up 58 percent over 2014:

 “Historically, production values have generally been going up, but net income has been all over the place, up and down, and roller-coastering. It’s that net is what the farmer’s bottom line is, that the farmer is going to look at in terms of what he’s going to do for the next year and ten years beyond.”   

 Based on the latest net farm income, the average farmer in Oregon earned about $35,000 in 2015. Of course, some made a lot more than the average while others made a lot less. Oregon has a high percentage of small farms that generate less than $10,000 a year. But on the whole, the state’s farmers and ranchers are doing better economically the past few years. And that's different from the numbers across most of the rest of the country.

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