Drought hasn't hit Utah farmers particularly hard yet, but they are taking it on the chin in production costs and farmland values.
While farm earnings (before the recent drought) have started to climb over much of the United States, pulling many farmers out of a decadelong agricultural crisis, farm production expenditures are up, too, and nowhere are they as high as in Utah and the seven other Rocky Mountain States.According to the Utah Agricultural Statistics Service, farm production expenditures for 1987 in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming totaled $8.3 billion - up 6 percent from $7.8 billion in 1986.
Expenditures were higher for all major categories except livestock purchases, which were down 40 percent, and interest, which fell 6 percent. Farm services, including rent, was the largest expenditure by Mountain States farmers in 1987, accounting for 23 percent of the region's production expenses.
Across the United States, total farm production expenditures were $110.1 billion in 1987, up only 3.9 percent from $106 billion in 1986. Nationally, expenditures were higher for all major categories except feed, which dropped .5 percent; interest, which dropped 15 percent; and fuels and lubricants, which dropped 7.3 percent.
U.S. average expenditures per farm were $50,791, an increase of $2,815 over 1986 expenditures, the statistics service said.
Another area in which Utah farmers are hurting is farmland values. They have turned higher this year over most of the nation, ending a decline that began six years ago but, in Utah, farmland values continue to decline.
In February, U.S. farmland averaged $564 per acre, up 3 percent from a year earlier, but way below the record average value of $823 per acre set in 1982.
Utah farmland is valued, on the average, at only $428 per acre - down 6 percent from last year - and all farmland and buildings in Utah are valued at $4.84 billion - down $292 million from last year.