Farm expenses decline first time since 1986

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WASHINGTON — After setting a record high in 2008, U.S. farm production expenditures decreased by $20 billion in 2009. This is the first major decline in 25 years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Statistics Service.

Average spent

The average production expenditures per farm fell 6.4 percent in 2009, from $140,075 to $131,137. Total U.S. expenditures totaled $287 billion, down from $307 billion in 2008.

Falling petroleum prices were a factor behind the decline in overall farm expenses.

Fuel costs

The report shows farmers and ranchers spent $12.4 billion on fuels in 2009, down 22.5 percent from the previous year. The average U.S. farm operation spent $5,658 on fuel in 2009.

Total fuel expenditures nationwide included $7.22 billion for diesel, down 26.8 percent from 2008; $2.43 billion for gasoline, down 19.3 percent; $1.95 billion for LP gas, down 3.9 percent; and $800 million for other fuels, down 27.3 percent.

Production expenditures

Overall, 2009 farm production expenditures decreased in all major categories.

Average feed costs decreased 4 percent to $20,533 per farm; average costs for farm services decreased 4.2 percent to $16,609 per farm; and the average costs for fertilizer, lime and soil conditioners decreased 10.7 percent to $9,171 per farm.

These estimates are based on the results of the nationwide Agricultural Resource Management Survey, conducted annually.

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