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What does it take to earn a living on the farm?


By Jerrold Tesmer

Mon, May 7th, 2012
Posted in All Agriculture

Each year when the adult farm management data becomes available, Gary A. Hachfeld, Extension Educator for Ag Business Management, University of Minnesota Extension, updates the statistics. It is designed to let non-farm (and some farm) folks know what amount of land or the number of head of livestock it takes to earn a living from the farm. There are some surprising numbers in the document.

Agriculture is an integral part of Minnesota’s economy. Collectively the production, processing, marketing, and distribution of agricultural products accounts for approximately $16 billion dollars of state revenue. Minnesota is the seventh largest agricultural producer overall in the US. Over 40,000 jobs are directly or indirectly associated with agriculture in Minnesota. Surprisingly, only 19 percent of all agricultural employment is at the farm or production level. All other agricultural employment is in processing, marketing, ag services whole sale and retail trade.

As input costs increase and commodity prices farmers receive fluctuate, profit margins change over time. As these changes occur, farmers have had to change their businesses. Some farmers have gone out of business. Some are farming part-time and work off the farm to supplement their income. Others have gone to alternative farming methods in order to remain in farming. Yet others still farm full-time and they have increased the size of their farms or looked to alternative enterprises in order to remain profitable. Whether we agree or disagree with these changes, the changes are a function of the changing agricultural industry.

The following data is presented not to justify or support the changes in agriculture. Rather, it is put forth as one approach to quantifying and explaining what is happening. The numbers presented are real numbers from several hundred real farm families throughout the southern one-third of Minnesota. These families have kept records on their farm business as well as their household and personal expenses. As you study the data, it becomes clear that agriculture is changing. Appearing in the data are more negative returns for enterprises reflecting very slim or negative profits.

Note: The data listed is an average of all the farm families reporting. Keep in mind that there are farm families performing above as well as below the numbers shown here.

In 2011, a total of 343 of the 1,207 farm families from the MnSCU So .....
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Is hay starting a comeback?

By Jerrold Tesmer

Mon, Apr 23rd, 2012
Posted in All Agriculture

In all the excitement about the large acreages of corn in the Prospective Planting Report on March 30, a small item that is important to Southeast Minnesota may have been largely ignored. Producers intend to harvest 57.3 million acres of all hay in ..... 
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Early season pasture thistle control

By Jerrold Tesmer

Mon, Mar 26th, 2012
Posted in All Agriculture

When the grass started greening up, it also meant other less welcome plants will soon be appearing. Normally, early May is excellent for early season pasture weed control, but if this weather trend continues, consider moving the timing up. Plants th ..... 
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Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) workshop

By Jerrold Tesmer

Mon, Mar 19th, 2012
Posted in All Agriculture

If you are interested in developing a Food Safety Plan for your farm, a Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) workshop will be held on Thursday, April 5 from 1-6 pm at the Winona County Office Building in Winona, Minnesota. The cost of the workshop is ..... 
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As possible drought looms, Commissioners Rothman and Frederickson urge farmers to review crop insurance needs

Mon, Feb 27th, 2012
Posted in All Agriculture

ST. PAUL, MN – In light of current drought conditions, Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson and Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman today issued a consumer alert encouraging Minnesota farmers to consider purchasing crop insurance ahead of thi ..... 
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Minnesota seeks lookouts for invasive pests

By Jerrold Tesmer

Mon, Feb 20th, 2012
Posted in All Agriculture

With the recent large Emerald Ash Borer infestation on I-90, the two large oriental bittersweet infestations in Red Wing and Winona, and the value of our black walnuts, there should be considerable interest in becoming Forest Pest First Detectors. T ..... 
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Fertilizing grass pastures

By Jerrold Tesmer

Mon, Feb 13th, 2012
Posted in All Agriculture

Are you looking for ways to get more out of your pasture? Have you ever soil tested your pasture? Do you treat your pasture like a valuable crop? As with other crops, adequate fertilizer is needed for optimal economic production. This could mean ..... 
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Farm family recognition nominations

Fri, Jan 27th, 2012
Posted in Agriculture

The Fillmore County Extension Committee is asking your help in identifying potential farm families for recognition by the University of Minnesota. The Farm Family Recognition Program has existed for over two decades and honors farm families from thr ..... 
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Cow/Calf Days

Fri, Jan 27th, 2012
Posted in Agriculture

The 2012 Minnesota Beef Cow/Calf Day will be held Thursday, February 9 at America's Best Value Inn in Rochester from 5:30 to 9:30 pm. The topics for the evening's agenda are as follows.

"Pasture and Forage Management for Optimal Production." ..... 
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