A fighting chance at profits

Upper Midwest agriculture is all about cycles. Plant in the spring, harvest in the fall. Calf and lamb in the spring or early summer, sell the animals the following fall or winter.

The cycle, at least for me, includes the annual Projected Crop Budgets released each December by the North Dakota State University Extension Service. Andy Swenson, a veteran NDSU farm management specialist, estimates production costs and revenue to determine potential returns in the upcoming growing season for different crops across the state.

For farmers, the projections are a neutral, expert source of information. For me, an ag journalist, the budgets are an advance, sneak peak at what the next crop year might bring.

Swenson is the first to say that the projections aren’t perfect and that producers shouldn’t place too much trust in them. Nonetheless, anyone who farms in North Dakota would do well to check them out; producers in adjacent states might benefit, too

Bottom line on the newly released 2014 projections: Farmers will have opportunities to make money next year, but they’ll need to consider a wider range of crops than they have in the past few years.

My story on the crop budgets can be found at  http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/22317/. It also will be in the Dec. 23 print version of our magazine.

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