It’s Costing More to Farm, USDA Study Shows

Farm expenses rise 5% from 2016, for average-size operations.

It’s no surprise, but it’s costing more and more to be a U.S. farmer, according to USDA statistics.

On Thursday, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released its annual Farm Production Expenditures Report.

For U.S. farmers, 2017 expenses were estimated at $359.8 billion, up from $346.9 billion in 2016.

The 2017 total farm production expenditures are up 3.7% compared with 2016 total farm production expenditures. For the 17 line items, 13 showed an increase from the previous year, while the rest showed a decrease, according to the NASS report.

Top 4 Expenses

The four largest expenditures for farmers totaled $176.2 billion and account for 49.0% of total expenditures in 2017, the NASS report summary stated. These include feed at 15.3%; farm services at 12.2%; livestock, poultry, and related expenses equaled 11.7%; and labor made up 9.8% of expenditures.

In 2017, the total U.S. farm expenditure average per farm is $176,352, up 4.3% from $169,035 in 2016, according to today’s NASS report.

Fuel Expenses

U.S. farmers spent $12.0 billion on fuel, according to NASS’s report on annual expenses. Diesel, the largest subcomponent cost, totaled $7.6 billion, accounting for 63.3%. Diesel expenditures are up 2.7% from the previous year.

The U.S. economic sales class contributing most to the 2017 U.S. total expenditures is the $1,000,000 to $4,999,999 class, with expenses of $114.9 billion, 31.9% of the U.S. total, up 1.7% from the 2016 level of $113.0 billion, according to the NASS study.

In 2017, crop farm expenses jumped up to $183.9 billion, up 3.9%, while livestock farm expenditures also increased to $175.9 billion, up 3.5%, NASS reports.

“The largest single expenditures for crop farms are for labor at $25.4 billon (13.8%), rent at $24.9 billion (13.5% of total), and farm services at $24.4 billion (13.3%),” NASS stated in the report.

Combined crop inputs (chemicals, fertilizers, and seeds) are $51.8 billion, accounting for 28.2% of crop farms total expenses.

The largest expenditures for livestock farms are feed at $53.4 billion, NASS stated.

The Midwest farmers contributed the most to total farm expenditures with expenses of $109.1 billion (30.3%), up from $108.9 billion in 2016.

Other regions, ranked by total expenditures, are Plains at $93.7 billion (26.0%), West at $77.7 billion (21.6%), Atlantic at $43.1 billion (12.0%), and South at $36.2 billion (10.1%).

The West increased $6.34 billion from 2016, which is the largest regional increase.

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