A commodities study finds higher prices for corn, soybeans and other grains during the fourth quarter have improved the financial outlook for Midwestern farmers. A survey by the Minneapolis-based Federal Reserve Bank showed most farmers across the region -are- making a profit. Toby Madden is the Reserve Bank’s chief spokesman. Madden says “We chart decreases in farm income, that is the percentage of respondents that say farm income is down and only eight percent of the respondents said that farm income was down in the fourth quarter. That’s the lowest level I can remember in at least 10 years.” He says soybean prices are at their highest levels in years. He says “The fourth quarter survey which was conducted in late December and early January shows that ag lenders saw that their farm customers had a very profitable fourth quarter and expect a pretty strong first quarter of 2004.” Madden says one area of concern is dry weather which reduced yields last year. Cattle prices have also fallen since the U.S. mad cow scare. The Reserve Bank surveyed about 130 bankers in a five-state area that included Iowa.
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