It is a common misconception, thinking that farmers are big money-makers. Did you know that in 2011, the average total farm household income was $57,067, with the farm income alone being NEGATIVE $2,250? Still think farmers are rich?

Commodity prices are publicly broadcasted, but the input prices are not. It has become more expensive than ever to put seed corn and soybeans in the ground. It cost farmers just at $500 per acre to put the crop in the ground. So, figure they get lucky and sell their corn for $7.00 per bushel. With a yield of 150 bushels to the acre, that would be about $1,000. Take out the $500 for the seed, fertilizers, crop insurance, storage, hired labor, and all things necessary to keep the crop healthy, and the farmer is left with $500 per acre. With that money they have to buy their big pieces of machinery, such as a tractor, planter, or combine. Still think they are rich?

For most farmers, their crop production is their only source of income. So after all the business operations are complete, they have to support their family. With all of that, they do not have the leisure of having the opportunity of calling in sick or just taking the day off. Each day is crucial in their operation so they can be as productive as possible. There is always that possibility that they could lose everything in a matter of days, weeks, or months by wind, fire, or other disaster. Farming is an unbelievably uncertain profession to go into.

Farm subsidies are a very important part of a farmer’s business. What happens if there is a really bad drought? Or a new insect or disease introduced to their area? What if commodity prices are down? The farmer still paid that initial money up front to put the crop in the ground. When the yield is below normal, the government steps in and helps the farmer out. Private companies do not have the means of accommodating the riskiness associated with farming.

The subsidies are not free money, either. The farmers have to put forth a lot of work in order to show that their yields are down. For most programs, there is an average bushel per acre that they have as a standard. Another stipulation is that the farmer cannot enroll in multiple programs. They choose what best fits their needs.

The government is helping out its producers, but that gives a lot of help to the consumers too. Farmers are our source of food, fuel, clothing, basically anything you can think of. Would you rather support the government and our farmers, or rely of the Middle Eastern countries to provide us with our gasoline? The government has to guarantee food security for its citizens. Also, to make sure we can sustain our country and not have to rely on others to support our needs.

Do you still think that farmers are rich? Maybe the farm subsidies are not such a bad deal after all.

Katlyn Pieper
Illinois State University


  1. FARMERS ARE SUPER RICH on average and have much higher net worth than the average American, that is a fact. Almost all the farmers money comes from taxpayers. Farmers are the biggest “welfare queens” in the United States. This year, a neighboring family farm received a crop insurance check for nearly $1M from Uncle Sam just for existing. Nearly free crop insurance, subsidized crop prices (including the ridiculous corn ethanol mandate), subsidized credit, special tax breaks, etc, etc, etc. These rich farmers are loving it and laughing all the way to the bank. That giant sucking sound you hear is your tax dollars being siphoned off to rich farmers. Your numbers include very low productivity and part-time hobby farms, so they give an artificial picture of what is happening on big Midwest grain farms (like those in Illinois). If you look at Midwest row crop farmers, the picture becomes very clear. Most of these rich Midwest farmers, at least where I live in Illinois, have incomes in excess of $200K, net worths in excess of $2M and work about 4 months of the year and drive brand new $60K trucks every year. The larger family farms have net worths in the $10M+ range and income in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. I view modern Midwest row crop “production agriculture” farmers as parasites, and I think more and more people are seeing in my way over time, no matter how much misinformation and PR spin is put forth by the ag lobby and the land grant universities. Sorry but those are just the hard facts.

    1. You’re a dumb ass. Not everyone receives a crop insurance check. You only receive some money if your crops are a loss. This year was a bad year in the Midwest. Many people lost their crops to excessive rain and long dry spells. There were a few areas that had a decent yield. The large farms get more crop insurance than the small farmers. But is that to say that if you sick insurance shouldn’t back you up. Farmers pay insurance on their crops dipshit. It is the same as medical insurance, but it isn’t cashed in as often. And, not all farmers have crop insurance. Some don’t feel that the money they put into it is worth it. If you would have read the article it said that farmers sometimes makes a half a million dollars a year, but have you looked at their expenses. They don’t just pay rent and feed themselves and their family. They also need to buy seed, animal feed, fertilizer, vet bills, machinery parts, fuel. They can easily go and spend $1000 in parts for a single machine, but without those parts the machine wouldn’t work. Also, not everyone has top of the line machinery. My parents have a couple machines from the 50s that they still use on a daily basis. Have some damn respect. These people do not just work 4 months out of the year. If they have animals, that is a 24 hour 7 day a week job. They need to be fed, cleaned, milked, and you never know if one of them will be ill, need help delivering a calf, etc. And, that isn’t even close to what the life of a dairy farmer looks like. Farmers also need to fix machinery. Have you ever had to rip a large combine apart and put it together? Because I have and it was a bitch. They work when it is 100 degrees to when it is 30 below. They can’t decide to stay in and sit on their ass all day in their warm houses because someone needs to care for the animals and work the land. You sir probably get up do a 8 hour work day 5 days of the week and the rest of the time is yours. These people don’t have this luxury. This is a 24/7 job, and when they do take off a break, at least for the dairy farmers, they need to pay someone to care for their animals if they can find someone to do a good job. So, if you want to talk shit about farmers keep it to yourself or you can go starve to death because these people are feeding your lazy ass.

      1. Well, first off the taxpayer is paying 62 percent of farmers crop insurance premiums as well as 100 percent of the admin costs to run the program. That,s just unbelievable when you think about it. Read yesterday where the total cost to the taxpayer in 2012 was $20B plus. Why is it the taxpayers job to guarantee the rich farmer income and wealth? Also to get an education on farm subsidies, which I think you really need, Google the Environmental Working Group EWG’s farm subsidy database and search for your county. If your county is like mine, after reviewing the data it is clear how these rich farmers really make there millions – on the backs of taxpaying working people!

    2. You keep saying “Family farms” are making 10M dollars from a crop insurance check. No way in hell that is a family farm, unless the family has 100+ people in it. On top of that, I agree with x. Have some respect for the hard working farmers. We have a small family farm, and by that I mean its just me and my father. We receive the subsidies every year, and it isn’t much, but its something that offsets the costs of fuel, or parts for the combine or tractor. I don’t agree with these huge subsidies going to the massive corporations that have plenty of money in the bank. But even the family farm that grosses even 1m annually could use these, because as x said, all that money goes back into the farm. They drive new trucks because they simply trade in and continue the monthly payments because they prefer to have a reliable truck for the farm, a hard worked year old pickup will have engine problems that may arise in the next year and its more financially efficient to trade in for a new one. The same thing applies to tractors ans combines, they trade them in often enough to avoid major breakdowns, especially during harvest time, the worst possible time to have a breakdown. These people work hard to feed and clothe this country.

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