After years of financial struggle, 2020 profitable for Minnesota farmers

After years of financial struggle, 2020 profitable for Minnesota farmers

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — A week of April showers, budding trees and, for some, pollen-induced allergies.

If you look closely enough, you’ll see the signs of spring.

“Now, once we dry out, we’ll see corn planting begin full scale once field conditions are fit,” said Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst at MinnStar Bank.

Another season of favorable weather could mean that when fields dry out, the money doesn’t.

After Minnesota farmers’ first profitable year in some time, the University of Minnesota Extension says median farm net income totaled around $107,000 in 2020.

Compare that to the six years prior, where median income across the state ranged from $27,000 to $43,000.

Weather and rising crop and livestock prices will be crucial this year, according to experts, after a tumultuous year cushioned by federal relief aid.

“Government program payments nationwide accounted for about 40% of the net farm income,” Thiesse said.

Leaders in Washington say they’re trying to do their part to help.

Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN, 01) introduced a bipartisan bill earlier this year to expand PPP access for farmers and ranchers.

“For some reason, the Small Business Administration, I think, didn’t interpret legislation properly,” Hagedorn said. “So they said, if you’re an individual farmer, no problem, you can use either net income or gross income. But if you’re in a partnership you could only use the net income, which was going to limit their loan.”

He hopes, if it passes, the bill will give the most money possible to all family-owned farms, what he calls the backbone of rural communities.

”I think it will affect about 100,000 potential farmers out there across the country, many in southern Minnesota.”

Thiesse says this bill could help even the playing field as farmers and agribusinesses look ahead to a season of relying on high yields to find success.

“Because farm profitability has improved, there’s probably not going to be a lot more farm assistance payments right now. But who knows what will happen down the road.”

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