In October, University of Nebraska agricultural economist Brad Lubben projected Nebraska net farm income in 2021 could reach $8 billion (Figure 1). If realized, it would be a record high exceeding 2011 and 2013 levels when net farm income topped $7 billion. It would also represent a 50 percent increase over 2020 and be the fourth consecutive year of rising farm income.
Figure 1. Nebraska Net Farm Income
The increase in income was driven by higher receipts due to higher prices and decent production. Crop prices ended the year well above prices seen over the past few years and livestock prices were also higher. Cattle prices in December were around $25/cwt. above January levels. As a result, a much smaller portion of 2021 income came from government assistance. Trade assistance was a thing in the past, COVID assistance was much less, and commodity program payments were minimal. Lubben estimated government assistance for the year would be $600 million, with $40-$50 million coming through farm program payments. In contrast, government assistance in 2020 equaled roughly $2.5 billion.