The last two years were the best farm income years in the history of the United States. Despite those records, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Commodity Classic audience nearly 50 percent of farmers lost money. Another nearly 40 percent of these farmers made the majority of their income from off-farm income. Historically, the government has looked at ways to reduce farm input costs and increase trade. Vilsack said USDA needs to do more. “The way to do that is to focus on additional income streams or market opportunities for producers, taking that same farmstead and instead of just relying on commodity sales, livestock sales or government payments, creating three, four or five different profit centers on that farm.” The added-value of climate-smart commodities was cited as an example. USDA received over 1,000 applications for the $1 billion climate-smart commodities program. A total of 141 projects were funded impacting over 60,000 farmers and 25 million acres. Two of those agreements were signed at Commodity Classic.
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