The latest forecast from the University of Missouri’s Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute projects farm earnings will be lower this year than what USDA economists are expecting. 

FAPRI projects net cash income, a measure of cash flow, will fall to just under $90 billion, well under the $95.7 billion forecast by USDA’s Economic Research Service. Net cash income last year is estimated to have been $91.4 billion. 

The FAPRI forecast projects lower receipts from both crops and livestock this year. Crop receipts are estimated at $198.8 billion, about $3 billion below the USDA estimate of $201.7 billion. Livestock receipts are forecast at $176.3 billion compared to $179.9 billion for USDA. 

FAPRI estimates net farm income — a broader measure that includes non-cash expenses, including capital consumption, and is considered to be a longer term measure of farm viability — at $68.6 billion this year, just under the USDA estimate of $69.4 billion. Both numbers are an increase from last year’s estimate of $63.1 billion.

Both measures of farm earnings are well below the average for 2000 through 2017 of $90.0 billion for net farm income and $108.0 billion for net cash income.

USDA and FAPRI both estimate that the farmers’ debt-to-asset ratio will rise from 13.5 percent last year to 13.9 percent in 2019. 

The FAPRI economists said they assumed that the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. farm products that were imposed by China and other countries in 2018 would stay in place through 2019. 

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