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In the next five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture expects about 10 percent of farmland to change owners. But as Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports, it’s still going to be tough for new farmers to buy land.

A land ownership survey conducted by the Agriculture Department found that landowners plan to put about half of those acres into trusts. That means it might still be farmed, but won’t be sold on the open market. Gifts, bequests and sales to family members further reduce the amount of farmland available for public purchase.

Matthias Ripp, flickr Creative Commons

One of the nation’s largest farm groups is warning of a downturn in the rural economy. Harvest Public Media’s Jeremy Bernfeld has more.

Prices for the Midwest’s top commodities like corn and soybeans have been sliding, and forecasts for farm profits are weak.

“What that means is that farmers are going to be facing a lot of financial stress," says National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. "Loans are going to be in jeopardy. Farmers may not get operating loans, they may not be able to repay operating loans from this year."

Blackburnphoto/Flickr--Creative Commons

The rural economy may take a hit this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As Harvest Public Media’s Amy Mayer reports, farm incomes are forecast to drop.

USDA expects net farm income to be down 36 percent this year compared to last.

USDA economist Mitchell Morehart says lower commodity prices and current land values and production expenses make the most recent forecast bleaker than government estimates from last spring.

Large Drop In Farm Income Predicted This Year

Jul 21, 2015
Matthias Ripp, flickr Creative Commons

Corn and soybean farmers in the Midwest are likely to earn far less money this year than they did last year, with some economists predicting that incomes could be less than one tenth of what they were in 2014.

A suburban lawmaker's proposal that would dramatically increase property taxes on Kansas agricultural land has spawned strong rural backlash and nagging fears that pieces of it will pop up in legislation to close a state budget shortfall.

A new monthly survey of bankers suggests the economy is slowing down in rural areas of Kansas, Missouri and eight other states.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says falling crop prices have farmers spending less, and crop prices are expected to continue declining this fall.

The overall economic index for the region fell into negative territory to 48.3 in August from July's 51.8.

The survey indexes range from 0 to 100. Any score below 50 suggests decline in the months ahead.

Goss said bankers are not very optimistic about the next few months.

Kansas farmers are coping with frigid conditions as they look after cattle herds.

Most Kansas ranchers have not begun calving yet. But the lack of snow on the ground means cattle can stay dry and better weather the subzero weather.

It also means there is little protective cover for exposed winter wheat crops. It will be spring before farmers know the full extent of freeze damage.

The National Weather Service says Garden City and Cottonwood Falls had the state's lowest temperatures early Monday at minus 12 degrees.

Kansas Farmer Files Suit Against Monsanto

Jun 5, 2013

A Kansas farmer has sued seed giant Monsanto over the discovery of genetically engineered experimental wheat.

Elkhart wheat grower Ernest Barnes filed the suit.

It alleges that when people heard about the unapproved wheat in an Oregon field last week, the news drove down wheat futures prices and caused a backlash from some international markets, which suspended certain imports.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.

Drought Slows Farm Income Growth Down In First Quarter

May 16, 2013

The Federal Reserve says farm income growth slowed across the Plains and western states in the first quarter, as costs increased and the drought lingered.

Bankers expect farm income to weaken further in the region during the second quarter.

But land values continued to increase in the first quarter on top of several years of significant growth. Cropland values rose 20 percent over 2012, and ranchland values grew 14 percent.

The 10th Federal Reserve District covers Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, northern New Mexico and western Missouri.

Participants in the Kansas wheat quality tour have forecast the state will harvest 313 million bushels despite drought and freezes.