Low crop prices could hurt Minnesota farmers

Farm Forum

WINDOM, Minn. (AP) — The end of the fall harvest has revealed disappointing yields for some Minnesota farmers, and with a big harvest expected nationally pushing soybean and crop prices lower, that means the economic outlook in Minnesota is uncertain.

Yields in some parts of the state were below expectations, especially compared to the record U.S. harvest. Low prices for soybeans, corn and other grain will likely cause many Minnesota farmers to lose money on their crops this year, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

Some farmers are storing their crops in hopes that they will eventually become more profitable. If a weather problem occurs somewhere in the world, it could reduce yields and boost prices.

Michael Wojahn, a farmer in southern Minnesota, saw a yield of about 37 bushels to the acre, about 8 bushels below normal. He’s opting to store a majority of his crop — about 50,000 bushels — in grain bins. Although he’s expecting a small profit, he said he’ll still be affected by the low grain prices.

“I can pay my bills on the farm, but what it’s coming down to is how well my family can eat,” Wojahn said. “What we can do with what we’re getting in.”

Crop prices rose fairly unexpectedly in October, according to MinnStar Bank farm management analyst Kent Thiesse. Both corn and soybean prices increased more than 10 percent.

But farmers’ per acre revenue insurance payment could be reduced by the price jump, according to Thiesse. Corn will be hit hardest, causing a reduction in per-acre payment that could be more than 20 percent, he said.

“From that aspect, the price rise probably, in the bottom line as far as financially, will probably end up hurting them,” he said.

Many farmers will now focus on how they can cut costs to bounce back next year, Thiesse said.