Farm analysts say rural income here in the Midwest is likely to be up this year. Though drought hit many areas, it wasn’t as bad as last year in Nebraska and western Iowa, and Charles Brown with the Iowa Farm Bureau has been working with farmers on income and tax issues.He sees especially livestock prices up, with hogs higher than last year but cattle prices “dramatically higher.” Brown says the years of drought contributed to cutting of U.S. cattle inventories, but that wasn’t the only factor. He says it got a dramatic boost this year when we cut off the import of Canadian beef during the discovery of BSE, Mad Cow Disease, in one animal, and as imports went down, US beef prices went up. Then again, Brown says producers are going to need good prices, to make up for their losses of the last few years. They’ll have to pay more for feed, though cattle eat more corn than soybeans, and he sees Iowa corn crops better than the beans, and in recent days Brown says the price for beef has gone up while corn went down. Corn closed lower Monday on commodity markets, with reports of a good harvest. Brown is willing to make an overall prediction for the grain harvest this year. He thinks we’ll have good crops, and though not the record harvest of 2002, it’ll be OK this year and he thinks 2004 will be down a bit. As for concerns about the soybean aphid, Brown says its toll varied from one part of the state to another. He’s talked to farmers who sprayed their fields, and “check-strips” they put out to get bug samples didn’t show a difference, but they won’t really be able to tell till they start harvesting. The soybean harvest is likely to be down in southern Iowa, not because of the new insect pest, but because dry weather cut yields by as much as ten to 15 bushels below last year.
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