AMES — A report from the Iowa State University Extension shows a slight increase in net farm income but a decrease in total farm assets and net farm worth.

ISU Extension economist Alejandro Plastina says the Iowa Farm Costs and Returns Analysis shows net farm income rose by six-percent last year, while the average net farm worth fell by seven-percent.  Plastina says, “We learned that profitability went slightly up in 2018 compared to 2017, but overall, asset values and net worth actually declined, compared to the previous year.”

He says the rate of return for Iowa farmers hasn’t budged in six years.  “Since 2013, the rate of return has not gone above 2.5%,” Plastina says, “where if we go back to 2009, ’10, ’11 and ’12, the rate of return was between eight and ten-percent, so a big drop.” He notes, the rate of return hasn’t changed much since 2013, unfortunately.

Plastina says one of the surprises from the report is that the size of the average Iowa farm declined by 21 acres, the lowest since 2013. He says a combination of factors likely led to that. “Some farms might have dropped some of the rented acres where they were less profitable,” Plastina says. “Some farms might have dropped from the database, especially those larger farms.”

The report was limited to farms with sales of $100,000 or more. The analysis did not contain 2019 information. This year saw severe flooding and planting delays that could delay harvest and reduce yields.