Friday, December 22nd, 2006
By Nancy Allen
Mercer No. 1 in farm income
  Mercer County agriculture income decreased 9 percent from 2004 to 2005, but the county still retains its No. 1 ranking for farm income among Ohio's 88 counties.
The ranking and other county-by-county numbers are available to the public in the 2005 Ohio Farm Income report compiled by the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service and Ohio State University Extension. It is the most recent data available.
Preliminary figures show that Mercer County cash receipts for all 2005 commodities totaled $310.1 million compared to $340.8 million in 2004.
Darke County, Mercer County's rival in the past, ranked second in the state in total farm income with $248.8 million in 2005, a 10.9 percent decrease from their 2004 total of $279.2 million.
Mercer ranked first in income for hogs and pigs ($52.9 million) and poultry and other livestock ($125.4 million), while Darke County ranked first in income for corn ($31.8 million) and soybeans ($31 million).
Wayne County, the area around Wooster, ranked first in milk income in 2005 with $99.7 million, while Mercer County ranked second with $55.6 million. Wayne County also ranked first in income for cattle and calves with $27.6 million and oats and hay with $5.2 million.
In 2005, Mercer County saw income decreases in five of the eight commodity categories measured - total crops, poultry and other livestock, livestock, corn and wheat, and increases in the remaining three - soybeans, oats and hay, and other crops.
The biggest decreases were for corn which dropped 22.1 percent from $31.4 million in 2004 to $2.5 million in 2005, and in poultry and other livestock, which dropped 17.1 percent from $151.2 million in 2004 to $125.5 million in 2005. Even with the decrease, income from poultry and other livestock still accounted for 50.3 percent of the total 2005 Mercer County livestock income.
The decrease in corn income between 2004 and 2005 can be directly attributed to a drastic decrease in price, said Christopher Gibbs, executive director of the Mercer County Farm Service Agency in Celina.
"Early in the 2004 season, corn prices were rising to keep up with the cash soybean market. At one point in the spring of 2004, the Chicago Board of Trade price for corn approached $3.40 per bushel," Gibbs said. At the same time the Brazilian soybean crop was in trouble from an outbreak of Asian Rust which adversely affected their harvest. Local cash prices for soybeans at one point were over $10 per bushel. In contrast, in the fall of 2005, futures prices for corn had fallen to the $2.50 per bushel range."
Gibbs said he is perplexed by the statistical data indicating that soybean income increased between 2004 and 2005 since soybean prices fell 40 percent in value between March of 2004 and the fall of 2005. The only plausible explanation is that producers were unable to capture those $10 per bushel prices in 2004 because they had already marketed their 2004 crop before the market peaked.
Regarding decreases in livestock, Gibbs said income from poultry decreased between 2004 and 2005 because the egg market collapsed under the weight of abundant supplies over the past 24 months.
While Mercer County income from corn decreased in 2005, income from soybeans, oats and hay, and other crops all increased, statistics show. Soybean income increased 9.3 percent from $24.2 million in 2004 to $26.4 million in 2005; oats and hay increased 32 percent from $2.1 million in 2004 to $2.7 million in 2005, and other crops increased 11.4 percent from $1.9 million in 2004 to $2.2 million in 2005.
Income from livestock continued to make up the majority of total agriculture income in Mercer County for 2005, accounting for just more than 80 percent, the report shows.
Average receipts per farm in Mercer County decreased from $270.5 million in 2004 to 248.1 million in 2005, figures show. Average receipts per farm in Darke County also decreased from $158.6 million in 2004 to $143 million in 2005. Auglaize County, which ranked 11th in the state for total farm income, saw a slight increase in farm receipts per farm from $98.2 million in 2004 to $100.4 million in 2005.
Counties ranking third through 10th after Mercer and Darke counties in total 2005 farm income are Wayne, Putnam, Holmes, Licking, Wood, Hardin, Fulton and Lorain.
The report says farmers earned slightly less income in 2005 than in 2004 and government payments skyrocketed to $614.3 million, an 84.7 percent increase from the $332.7 million in government payments made to Ohio farmers in 2004. This represents 10.6 percent of total income statewide including government payments.
Gibbs said government price support payments increased due to low market prices. FSA supports prices two ways. Primarily, we make direct payments on a per bushel basis to producers when cash prices are below loan levels set by Congress. The 2005 loan rate for corn in Mercer County was $1.99, while the soybean loan rate was $5.16 per bushel. Secondly, FSA supports producers who participate in the Direct And Countercyclical Payment Program by making cash payments when the national average price for a commodity is lower than that crop's target price. For corn the target price is $2.63 per bushel, while soybeans are set at $5.80.
Income during 2005 from Ohio's livestock, livestock products and crops totaled $5.18 billion, 0.8 percent below last year's $5.22 billion. Income from all crops in 2005 was down 0.3 percent from 2004. Income from livestock in 2005 was 1.3 percent below the 2004 income from livestock.
The top five commodities in terms of cash receipts earned in 2005 were soybeans with $1.12 billion and 21.7 percent of total receipts; corn with $794.1 million and 15.3 percent of total receipts; wholesale milk with $744.7 million and 14.4 percent of total receipts; greenhouse and nursery with $584 million and 11.3 percent of total receipts; and poultry and eggs with $422.3 million and 8.1 percent of total cash receipts. Commodities ranked sixth through 10th include hogs, cattle and calves, wheat, vegetables and hay. The top 10 commodities accounted for 95.8 percent of all Ohio cash receipts.
To view the complete 2005 Ohio Farm Income report go to http://www.nass.usda.gov/oh/ and go to the home page and click on Ohio Publications and then on the Farm Income icon.
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