A recent University of Illinois Farm Economics Facts and Opinions report predicts net returns for 2012 at $269 per acre for corn and $136 per acre for soybeans, indicating a profitable year.
"For corn we're looking at non-land cost at $513 per acre for central Illinois high-productivity land," says agricultural economist and farm management specialist Gary Schnitkey. "That's up from last year when we had $418 projected for 2011. The $513 cost, if it happens, is the second highest on record, with 2009 higher at $535. Soybeans are projected to be $301 per acre, which would be the highest ever."
Schnitkey says the costs were figured using data from 2010, which is the last year with actual numbers, then projected forward based on current input prices. The costs are based on data from farms enrolled in Illinois Farm Business Farm Management (FBFM) and the fertilizer and seed costs come from a variety of sources, Schnitkey said.
"The cost includes direct costs which are fertilizer, pesticides, seeds, drying and storage and crop insurance, power costs relating to machinery and general overhead costs," Schnitkey adds. "We also added a line cost which is an average cash-rent. We used $230 per acre as an average."
Schnitkey reports the projected break-even prices, which would cover all costs of production, are $3.81 per bushel for corn and $9.48 per bushel for soybean. These prices factor in fairly high yield expectations on high-quality farmland. For corn, Schnitkey assumes an average yield of 195 bushels. For soybeans, a 56 bushel average yield was assumed.
"Both of those are pretty high and suggest prices above $4.00 per bushel for corn and $10 for soybeans for farmers to be profitable in this new cost environment," he adds. "But, while we're looking at a good year, agriculture can change quickly."
Visitors to the U of I farmdoc website can view the full report at http://www.farmdoc.illinois.edu/manage.