Farm income continues to fall, St. Louis Fed reports

Farm income in Missouri and surrounding states declined in the fourth quarter of 2018, marking a 20-quarter free fall in the region, according to a new survey released Thursday by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

The survey also found that farm household spending and capital expenditures declined in the fourth quarter of 2018. A majority of agricultural bankers surveyed expect these conditions to persist through the first quarter of 2019.

The survey covered the Federal Reserve Bank’s Eighth District, which includes part of Missouri and all or parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee.

One banker in Missouri reported “rumors of large farms filing for bankruptcy” while farmers in the area still have crops in the field.

Another reported that income varied widely in the region. Farmers hit with extreme drought saw yields as low as 30 percent below average while others in areas with above-average rainfall saw as high as 200 percent above-average yields.

Despite falling land values, bankers reported a faster-than-expected increase in quality farmland value in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the third quarter, according to the survey.

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