Iowa farmers see uptick in 2011 profits - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa farmers see uptick in 2011 profits

The USDA is predicting a 28 percent increase in farm profits this year The USDA is predicting a 28 percent increase in farm profits this year

It's been a good year for farmers, meaning a good year for the local economies in farming communities.

The US Department of Agriculture said farmers are earning 28 percent more for their products this year than they did in 2010.

This above-average crop applies to Eastern Iowa, despite extreme weather such as flooding, damaging winds and high temperatures.

Dubuque County farmer Matt Heitz finished harvesting his nearly 300 acres of corn in late November.

"The last little bit come out on Thanksgiving Day," he said Tuesday.

His yield was up 15 to 20 percent, he said, which was part of what he calls a trifecta: "Good crop, good price, good quality. Some years, you don't get any of that, but we were very fortunate this year."

Eastern Iowa had a generally healthy harvest. This year, corn hit its all-time high price of eight dollars per bushel. It has since dropped closer to six dollars a bushel.

"It's down from where it was, but it's still a very good price, historically," Heitz said.

Of course, prices for farm commodities are subject to the global market.

"We have a number of things at play here," Heitz said. "We have seasonality, the stronger dollar, the European debt crisis and uncertainty in our own economy."

Overall, farmers are getting good prices for grain, hogs, cattle and more. Many of them are using that extra cash to pay off debt or to upgrade farm equipment and buildings, meaning a boost for their local economies.

Farmers, however, aren't throwing caution to the wind.

"Next year could be a disaster. We don't look for it, but maybe we got two years in one, but it's sure nice to have it," Heitz said.

As always, farmers hope for the best but plan for all situations.

The average farm family saw an income increase of more than three percent from 2009 to 2010. The USDA expects that to increase another 1.2 percent this year.

As for the impact on prices at the grocery store or gas pump, farmers say that's hard to predict, since beyond farmers' expenses, there is the cost of fuel in transporting goods, as well as overhead costs for the stores that sell the goods.

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