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Vilsack: many U.S. farms aren’t making money

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said more than half of U.S. farms haven’t been profitable the last two years.

“In fact, farmers lost money,” he says. “Another almost 40% of farmers made money, but the majority of money they made came from off farm income. In record years, nearly 90% of our producers didn’t make any money or make the majority of money they need to represent their families.”

In testimony during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on Thursday, Vilsack said the next farm bill should include revenue opportunities for more small and mid-size farmers.

“We’ve got to figure out ways to extend beyond the traditional role of farmers benefitting from the sale of crops and livestock to figuring out additional ways in which that farmstead can generate profit so they have multiple streams.”

Vilsack said it’s not a new issue, but there must be a solution. He also expressed a concern about profitability for small and mid-size farms in his address to attendees at the Commodity Classic.

West-central Missouri farmer Ronnie Russell said an up-to-date, sensible farm safety net for the next farm bill should protect profitability.

“We know everything costs a lot more money now, especially in the past few years with inflation. The cost of inputs have increased dramatically.”

Russell says additional revenue opportunities for mid and small-sized farmers for the next farm bill could also help bring life back to rural communities. 

“You can drive across about any town in any state and see those small towns and squares. There are so many buildings boarded up and businesses have closed, because they can’t sustain enough revenue.”

Brownfield interviewed Russell at the Commodity Classic. Hear the interview.

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