Wichita A bountiful wheat harvest and record cattle prices boosted average net farm income by more than $31,000 in 2003 over the previous year, according to a new report.
The annual report by the Kansas Farm Management Assn. showed the average net farm income of $51,051 last year, up from $19,106 in 2002. The report is based on an analysis of 1,820 member farms.
"It was wheat and cattle that really made a big difference," said Brad Lubben, Extension agricultural economist at Kansas State University.
Kansas wheat production made a solid recovery in 2003, with record yields and increased harvested acreage. Prices for other crops also rebounded, offsetting drought losses for fall-harvested crops like corn, milo and soybeans, Lubben said.
A rise in consumer demand for beef already had driven up cattle prices last year when the United States closed its border in May to Canadian cattle imports after that country's first case of mad cow disease.
Lubben said cash prices for cattle were only affected for about a week and rebounded quickly after the first U.S. case of mad cow was confirmed at the end of 2003.
Cattle prices this year have moderated from the record levels seen in 2003 but still remain at strong levels, Lubben said. That means higher values for feeder cattle and more income for the state's cow-calf operators.
"Last year's higher net farm income certainly improves the financial strength of producers around the state -- and helps us to prepare for or deal with the fact that wheat production is back down this year," Lubben said.
Perhaps nowhere in the state is the added income more critical than in northwest Kansas, where this year's wheat crop was hit hard by drought, freeze and sprout damage.
Growers in northwest Kansas posted the biggest income gain last year after reaping a huge wheat crop. From a net loss of $817 in 2002, net farm income soared to $59,988 in 2003, according to the new report.
Farmers in southeast Kansas overall made the most money with a net farm income of $63,155. Southwest Kansas farmers made the least in the state with $37,329 in net income.