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Tough times in the heartland as some farmers hit by losses weigh exiting the business

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting that cash receipts for corn and soybean farmers will be down in 2017. Yet it's a different story for some livestock farmers, especially those who raise hogs. Also, cattle feedlots were under pressure but have recovered in the past year."If you look at the general economy and the ag economy, they generally kind of historically have run countercyclical to one another," said Curt Hudnutt, Rabobank's St. Louis-based North America's head of rural banking. "While the U.S. economy felt the recession in 2008, we were having record years in agriculture."Hudnutt said some corn farmers in the Midwest have been experiencing "below break-evens. This is really year three now. We really expect more of the same in 2018. It's not simply a matter of grain prices as it is input costs [such as seed, chemical and fertilizer supplies] are not coming down as quickly as grain prices have fallen."Overall, crop cash receipts — the income from crop sales during the 2017 — are forecast to be $189.9 billion, down 2 percent from last year. That would represent the fifth-consecutive year of lower corn receipts, and the total dollar value of the crop is expected to be the lowest number recorded since 2009, according to USDA economist Carrie Litkowski.

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