High crop prices mean good profit outlook for Minnesota farmers

Though profits are expected to rise, the cost of producing the crops has increased.

;MOORHEAD, Minn. (AP) – As spring planting time approaches, Minnesota farmers are looking at the possibility of record profits this year.

Crop prices are at record levels, with some analysts predicting farmers could clear $100 or more per acre. The Department of Agriculture estimates farm income will be 51 percent higher than the 10-year average.

That could mean nearly $500,000 in profit on Jeff Mortenson’s farm.

“We shouldn’t feel ashamed that we’re finally able to buy a different tractor or buy a different truck,” he said. “This is our business, we shouldn’t have to hide our head or feel foolish about updating stuff. It’s about time.”

But he’ll also spend more than before to plant this year’s crop.

“Our fertilizer has just about doubled in two years. Fuel is darn near doubled also,” said Mortenson, who farms about 4,000 acres near Kennedy with his brother. “Sure, we’re getting paid a lot more for our wheat, but inputs have gone up also, so we’re just dealing with higher volumes of money.”

He said farm profits from last year are giving him a chance to catch up.

“Instead of just trying to refinance other loans, treading water, you’re able to make your payments and maybe pay down some debt. That hasn’t happened for me and my brother; this is our 11th year farming and it’s the first year we’ve been able to do that,” he said.

Andy Swenson, a farm management specialist at North Dakota State University, expects high crop prices to last several years. Wheat supplies are at the lowest level since 1948, and soybean stocks are lower than they’ve been in more than a decade. Swenson said projected profits have never been better.

“You would think farmers would be ecstatic,” he said, “but there is a lot of nervousness out there because of these high costs.”