In the most recent CALS podcast, ag economist Ed Jesse describes some interesting long-term trends in Wisconsin farm income. Looking at the time period from 1924 to 2011, Jesse found that the proportion of farm income coming from dairy has gone down over time, while crop revenue has gone up.
It’s important to note that dairy income hasn’t decreased. It’s gone up, but crop revenue has gone up even more thanks to government mandates to blend corn-based ethanol into transportation fuel that started in the early 2000s. Those mandates took a lot of the corn supply, raised corn prices and provided farmers with strong incentives to plant more corn–and get out of livestock production.
Jesse predicts corn prices will moderate in the coming years, but not before they leave a permanent mark: “I think, to some extent, Wisconsin is now part of the Corn Belt,” he concludes.