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A survey of farmers across Minnesota's staple ag products — crops, pork, dairy and beef — show 2023 was a year many would like to forget.

The average Minnesota farmer surveyed reported income of $44,719, a 76% drop from 2022′s high of nearly $180,000. Margins were also tight, with farmers earning 8 cents of profit for every $1 in gross income.

The annual farm income report comes from the University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota State. One economist behind the report said part of the giant year-to-year drop is due to the record year of profits in 2022.

"2022′s profitability was really driven by the good commodity prices for grains and beef, dairy and swine," Pauline Van Nurden, Extension economist with the U of M's Center for Farm Financial Management, said Thursday. "It's changed dramatically."

The survey comprised a broad swath of more than 2,000 farmers but focused primarily on production-agriculture players, including many earning over $250,000 in gross income.

While farm profits soared in 2022, despite high costs of fertilizer and fuel, last year's bottoming-out commodity prices led to farmers' precipitous drop in incomes. Milk prices dropped 21%, and pork fell 16%. The only bright spot, said the report, was the state's beef producers, who benefited from record prices.

Speaking with the Star Tribune on Thursday, central Minnesota corn farmer Nick Peterson said he sees similarities to the lean times a decade ago that also followed a surge in profits.

"It's absolutely a belt-tightening moment," Peterson said.

The report foreshadowed that the majority of farm operations anticipate "negative margins" for this year.