Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the economic forecast predicting strong financial performance in the agriculture sector for 2011 is good news for producers and indicates that economic improvement is underway in much of rural America. Potential record or near record prices for commodities like corn, wheat, soybeans and cotton reflects the fact that our trading partners continue a strong demand for food and fiber produced by America's farmers.
While overall the report is positive, especially for producers of grains and fiber, the Secretary points out that it is a concern that farmers who continue to face an increase in expenses for key inputs, including feed, fertilizer and fuel. Additionally, after a strong recovery in 2010, the report projects a revenue decline for livestock farm businesses in 2011 and continued income and loan repayment concerns for dairy farmers. Higher feed costs are a primary factor.
Still, the report's projection that net cash farm income will exceed the recent historical high of 2005 is an indication that America's overall farm economy is improving, especially in the Heartland and in the Mississippi River region. The Obama Administration has focused on helping farmers and rural small businesses find profitability in the marketplace and success in the global economy. According to the Secretary, this report is an indication that effort is succeeding.