Wisconsin, Minnesota farmers could struggle to turn profit despite above average yields

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, August 3, 2016

LA CROSSE, Wis. — Wisconsin and Minnesota farmers could struggle again this year with a return on their crop investment, despite above average corn and soybean yields.

Agriculture experts are predicting a bumper crop of corn with more than 94 million acres of the grain planted across the country, an increase of 6 million acres from last year, the La Crosse Tribune reported.

But the Department of Agriculture said crop prices have not recovered much after dipping to $3.40 per corn bushel and $8.50 per soybean bushel in 2015, which resulted in losses for many farmers.

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“It gets hard,” said Gene Baumgarten, a farmer near Tomah. “You know you aren’t progressing any.”

Trempealeau County Extension Ag Agent Steve Okonek said many farmers will struggle to see a return on their investments for the second year in a row because the cost of fertilizer, fuel and labor is $4 or more per acre.

“Hopefully, farmers have been on top of their finances and can come out the other end of this,” Okonek said.

Baumgarten said his 350-acre farm of corn, soybeans and alfalfa is doing all right even though the prices he received for his crops and milk produced by dairy cows has dropped from highs he saw from 2012 to 2014.

“For us, we’re doing OK,” he said. “We had some of our crops contracted, which has been good for us.”

Okonek said there are things farmers can do in order to keep their debt-to-asset ratios at good levels and weather the downturn. He said farmers can sell their extra equipment and land they have to find ways of being more efficient.

“There is a lot of fine-tuning that can be done,” Okonek said. “If there is any slack, now is the time to take care of it.”