The annual Kentucky agricultural economic report shows gains in poultry and income from horses, but challenges in tobacco and dairy remain a concern.
There’s continued momentum for hemp, but it still represents a relatively small slice of the Commonwealth’s agriculture pie.
Kentucky agricultural cash receipts are expected to remain steady this year compared to last year. But, farmers’ income is likely to dip. University of Kentucky Agricultural Economist Will Snell says it’s been a tough economic climate for farmers for about five years now. “The cash flow and liquidity is really being challenged and, as a result, farmers are having to borrow more money to get through year to year and the financial stress is really starting to build,” said Snell.
Snell said international trade issues are on the minds of farmers including U.S. talks with China, the largest importer of U.S. ag exports. “Despite all the noise we’ve heard about trade, we actually, last fiscal year, which just ended in September, had higher ag exports than the year before. So, again, we’ve been able to move products in other markets, but I don’t want to downplay the significance of that Chinese market,” explained Snell
Snell says the total number of farms across Kentucky stays between 75,000 and 80,000, but there has been a concentration in the number of farmers. The ag economist said while hemp acreage doubled this past year and continued growth is anticipated, it would need to increase by a factor of seven to represent 1 percent of Kentucky cash receipts.