Low prices not all bad

Wisconsin State Roundup

Published July 1, 2002  | July 2002 issue

Thanks to programs at the state and federal levels, state farmers—particularly dairy—are getting significant new financial assistance to their bottom line.

The recent passage of the farm bill was good news for dairy farmers, who under previous programs had seen limited direct assistance. The new law establishes a price floor (called deficiency payments) for milk at nearly $17 per hundredweight. When prices fall below that level—and they have been for much of the past half-decade—farmers would get a check for 45 percent of the price difference. Early estimates figure that a farmer with about 70 cows could earn an extra $10,000.

A state law that changed how farmland is valued for tax purposes is also reaping benefits for farmers. Since 1999, farmland property taxes have been calculated on the land's agricultural use, not its market value. This year, property tax assessments on farmland declined up to 40 percent across the state and are expected to drop further, thanks to a "use-value" formula linked to five-year corn prices, which have been dropping.

Ron Wirtz