Last year was a doozy for Nebraska farmers and ranchers. Blizzards, floods, delayed planting, livestock death losses, a late harvest, trade disputes, and other out-of-the-ordinary events created production problems, management headaches, and higher costs.

Despite all this, forecasts suggest net farm income for the year will tick upwards. The USDA estimated Nebraska net farm income in 2018 at $2.61 billion, exceeding 2017 by 14 percent. Estimates of Nebraska net farm income for 2019 have yet to be made, however, the latest national forecast suggests 2019 net farm income will increase 10 percent. Nebraska farm income doesn’t always mimic U.S. numbers, but most observers expect 2019 farm income to rise above $3 billion.

The improved net income, if realized, will be the result of higher corn receipts and Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments. Corn receipts should be higher because production in the state was largely the same as 2018 and higher prices resulting from production problems elsewhere provided pricing opportunities for Nebraska producers. On the other hand, soybean receipts are expected to be lower due to less acres and production problems. Higher death losses, lower prices, and increased costs mean cow/calf producers saw lower receipts. Returns for the Nebraska cattle feeding sector were also probably down too. MFP payments, designed to mitigate trade losses, are expected to total roughly $1 billion for the year when the final tally is made. So, the MFP payments and larger corn receipts could be enough to push net farm income a bit higher, but still not near the levels seen earlier in the decade.

Figure 1. Nebraska Net Farm Income
Nebraska Net Farm Income

Source: USDA Economic Research Service