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02-20-04: Mercer County ranks first statewide in Ohio 2002 farm income

Overall receipts for crops and livestock decrease

Mercer County again ranks No. 1 in farm income among Ohio’s 88 counties in total cash receipts for 2002, even though the county recorded a decrease in agricultural income from 2001.
The Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service and Ohio State University Extension recently released the 2002 Ohio Farm Income report. It is the most recent data available.
Preliminary figures show Mercer County receipts for 2002 commodities totaled $254,348,000, an 8.4 percent decrease from the 2001 total of $277,572,000. The receipts were down mainly due to the drought and low market prices in 2002, local officials said.
Darke County, Mercer County’s perennial agricultural rival, ranked second in total farm income in 2002 with $204,305,000, a 7.7 percent decrease from their 2001 total of $221,332,000.
Mercer County ranked first in cash receipts for hogs ($26.5 million) and for poultry/other livestock ($134.8 million), while Darke ranked second in the same areas. Wayne County, the area around Wooster, ranked first in milk receipts for 2002 with $79.5 million, while Mercer ranked second with $39.6 million.
Darke County ranked first in receipts for corn ($27.4 million) and soybeans ($27 million), while Mercer County ranked fourth and 13th respectively.
Wood County, which includes Bowling Green, ranked first in 2002 receipts for wheat ($5.2 million) and Lake County, north of Cleveland, ranked first for other crops ($89.7 million).
Mercer County’s $134.8 million in receipts for poultry and other livestock and $39.6 million for milk are the two main areas that pushed Mercer County over Darke County in total receipts, even though those areas had the greatest decreases between 2001 and 2002 for Mercer County farmers.
Darke County recorded $91.1 million in receipts for poultry and other livestock and $17.5 million in receipts for milk in 2002.
The overall receipts for crops in Mercer County decreased 12.6 percent from $49.6 million in 2001 to $43.4 million in 2002. The only individual crop receipt that went up was soybeans, from $18.1 million in 2001 to $19.2 million in 2002.
Matt Roberts, a grain marketing specialist and professor at Ohio State University, said poor yields, an outcome of the 2002 drought, caused most of the drops in crop receipts.
Mercer County Farm Service Agency Executive Director Chris Gibbs said low market prices for milk and hogs caused the decreases in cash receipts in those areas for Mercer County farmers.
“We saw a 17 percent reduction in milk prices between 2001 and 2002, and that is what precipitated the Milk Income Loss Contract (MILC),” Gibbs said.
The MILC Program, which started nationwide in the fall of 2002, provides direct payments to assist milk producers who have suffered significant losses in income due to low milk prices.
Livestock income continues to make up the bulk of total cash receipts in Mercer County. Receipts for all livestock in 2002 made up 84 percent of the county’s cash receipts, while receipts for all crops made up the balance, the report indicates.
Average receipts per farm in Mercer County decreased from $192,758 in 2001 to $176,630 in 2002, figures show, as did per farm income in Darke County, dropping from $112,925 in 2001 to $103,184 in 2002. Auglaize County per farm income also dropped from $72,599 in 2001 to $68,015 in 2002.
Auglaize County, which ranked 12th in the state for farm income, saw a decrease in total farm receipts from $81.3 million in 2001 to $76.9 million in 2002.
Ohio farmers earned less income in 2002 and government payments totaled $279 million, 59.1 percent below 2001’s $671.7 million and the lowest since 1997, the report says. This represents 6.1 percent of total cash receipts including government payments.
Roberts said the amount of government payments to farmers in 2002 decreased because the national prices for corn and soybeans were above the level at which loan deficiency payments (LDPs) are paid. Loan deficiency payments pay farmers the difference between the local cash price and what the government would loan on the crop.
“In 2002 because there was a drought in the Eastern Corn Belt, national prices for corn and soybeans were above the level at which LDP’s are paid, and so LDP payments in 2002 were much smaller than they were in previous years,” Roberts said.
The drought diminished the supply of corn and soybeans, which in turn caused an increase in the market prices for those commodities, Roberts added.
The top five commodities statewide in terms of receipts earned were soybeans, $816.1 million, representing 19.1 percent of total receipts; corn, $703.2 million, representing 16.5 percent of total receipts; greenhouse and nursery, $569 million, representing 13.3 percent of total receipts; wholesale milk, $560.7 million, representing 13.1 percent of total receipts; and poultry and eggs, $433 million, representing 10.1 percent of total cash receipts.
Counties ranking third through 10th after Mercer and Darke counties in total farm receipts in 2002 are Wayne, Licking, Putnam, Lorain, Wood, Lake, Holmes and Hardin.


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