Farm incomes highest in 40 years - USDA

It's been 40 years since farm incomes were as strong as they'll likely wind up in 2013, according to data released by the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) this week.

Net farm income is likely to hit $131 billion this year, up 15% from the 2012 total ($113.8 billion). Though net cash income was forecast 3.4% lower than a year ago at $129.7 billion, that's due mostly to when farmers have and will be selling their grain.

"Not all crops produced in 2013 will be sold by the end of the 2013 calendar year; we anticipate substantial increases in the annual quantity and value of crop inventories, particularly for corn," according to USDA-ERS ag economist Mitch Morehart. "As a result, crop cash receipts are expected to decline by nearly 3% in 2013."

Alongside higher overall crop value this year, livestock receipts are seen surging about 6% for 2013. Taken together, the overall farm income picture -- a revision from an estimate ERS took in August -- is even brighter; overall net farm income is almost 8% higher than the earlier estimate.

"Most of the upward revision in our expectations for 2013 farm income is the result of price gains in selected crops (soybeans, hay, fruits and nuts, other vegetables, and melons). An upward revision in our forecast for the value of crop inventory change reflects increased price expectations, as well as an upward revision in the forecast quantity of corn production," according to Morehart. "The forecast value of livestock production is revised upward as increases in red meats, dairy, and chicken eggs more than offset anticipated declines in poultry. Price expectations are revised substantially upward for cattle."