CALS experts to forecast 2015 agricultural trends at Wednesday forum


In 2014, the total net farm income in Wisconsin reached an all-time high of more than $4 billion, but CALS experts are predicting some changes in 2015.

“The big word is dairy,” says Bruce Jones, a professor of agricultural and applied economics. “The price of milk was quite strong throughout most of 2014. That income gain—and in some respects some reductions in feed costs—helped improve the margins for dairy farmers, and that translated into higher net farm income.”

Jones will be among a handful of UW-Madison and UW-Extension experts to recap the status of Wisconsin’s agricultural enterprise in 2014 and discuss trends developing for 2015 at the Wisconsin Agricultural Economic Outlook Forum. The forum will take place Wednesday, Jan. 21 on the UW-Madison campus.

Jones says signs point toward a decline in net farm incomes in 2015. “Nothing to get necessarily all that worried about, but it’s not likely to be as good as it’s been the last three or four years,” says Jones. One major factor will be milk price, which is expected to drop by at least $7 per hundredweight.

However, feed prices are expected to remain low, with the net effect of bringing dairy margins back to the normal range. Farmers will also benefit from lower fuel costs in 2015, making it cheaper to run tractors and other machinery.

“Going into 2015, the big news is the reduction in oil prices. That’s going to translate into obviously lower fuel costs for most farmers in the coming year,” says Jones. “If this thing plays through the system and everything falls as you would expect, farmers could [also] be looking at more affordable fertilizer.”

More details are available in the executive summary developed by the Renk Agribusiness Institute for the forum. After the forum, speakers’ PowerPoint presentations will be shared online here as they become available.