Economists anticipate nearly 45 percent drop in Nebraska farm income this year

Economic Indicators Associated Press

Economists predict that Nebraska's farm income will drop nearly 45 percent this year due to lower crop prices and reduced government payments.

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But the state's farm income is expected to stabilize in 2016 and 2017, according to the latest three-year forecast of the state's economy by the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska Business Forecast Council.

The report states that non-farmers should anticipate their personal incomes to grow solidly through 2017.

Nebraska's farm income is expected to be around $3.5 billion this year, which is the lowest level since 2009. Nonfarm income should reach $87 billion this year, up from $84.1 billion last year, said Eric Thompson, an economist with the university and the director of the Bureau of Business Research.

Thompson said that based on those numbers, farm income would represent almost 4 percent of the state's total 2015 income of around $90.5 billion.

The state's farm industry was hit this year with significant declines in crop prices compared with record highs two years ago. Farm income represented more than 9 percent of the state's total income in 2013, Thompson said.

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Nebraska job growth is expected to lag behind the national average due to the anticipated decline in farm income.

Jobs in the state are predicted to grow at a rate of 1.2 percent, or 12,000 jobs a year, through 2017. The U.S. economy is expected to have a job-growth rate of 1.7 percent for 2015 and 2016.