MILWAUKEE — An abundance of rain is slowing spring planting in some areas of southeastern Wisconsin, adding to concerns about profitability.
Some farmers are waiting for dry weather in order to finish planting, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported . Wisconsin farmers typically aim to have corn planted by May 10, in order to maximize the growing season and get a better crop yield and profit.
The wet conditions mean farmers are dealing with muddy fields, said Ross Bishop, a rancher and crops farmer in Washington County.
"I have two-thirds of my corn planted, but probably five acres of that is under water. I can almost guarantee you the five acres is dead," he said.
The bad planting weather comes as many farmers are struggling financially. Net farming income nationwide is expected to drop 6.7 percent this year to the lowest level since 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers also are seeing income volatility after high commodity prices five years ago, according to the USDA.
"The prices that farmers have been receiving for their products aren't paying the bills, and too many people are being forced to give up farming," said Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union.
Some farm economists expect commodity prices to recover in the next two years, if foreign trade issues are settled and global markets become more predictable. But weather will also affect a potential turnaround.
"Farmers have no way of influencing prices. Their only way of trying to increase their income is to produce more," Johnson said.
Wisconsin farmers still have time to see a decent start to the growing season, said Mike Ballweg, a University of Wisconsin Extension agent in Sheboygan County.
"But if it's too wet, too muddy, there's nothing you can do but wait," he said.