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The USDA Predicts a 12-Year Low in Farm Profits

Lackluster crop prices and signs of stress for agriculture have continued in 2018, as the United States Department of Agriculture predicts net U.S. farm profits to hit a 12-year low, according to a new report.

The first USDA Farm Income Forecast of 2018, released on Wednesday, predicts a 6.7 percent decline in net farm income, in addition to the lowest average of net cash farm income since 2011.

The 2018 net farm income is predicted to reach $59.5 billion, a $4.3 billion decrease from 2017. That figure would mark the lowest since 2006, and a 50-plus percent decrease from the 2013 net income of $123.8 billion.

The net farm income is "a more comprehensive measure that incorporates noncash items, including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income," the report reads.

The USDA releases three income forecasts per year in order to provide indicators and "guidance to policy makers, lenders, commodity organizations, [and] farmers," according to the agency.

However, the median income of farm operator households is expected to remain the same from 2017 to 2018.