American farmers and ranchers spent a little less on farm expenses in 2018 than they did in 2017, according to a new federal report.
Total U.S. farm production expenditures fell to $354 billion in 2018 from $357.8 billion in 2017, according to an August report from the National Agricultural Statistics Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Midwest, where many farmers struggled with poor crop prices and weak farm profitability, accounted for most of the $3.8 billion national decline. Midwest producers spent $104.7 billion on farm expenses in 2018, $3.1 billion less than in the previous year.
Some spending categories registered increases from 2017 to 2018. Two examples:
Spending on fertilizer, lime and soil conditioners rose $1.2 billion.
And overall spending on fuel rose from $11.9 billion to $12.3 billion. An 8% increase in spending on diesel, the biggest component of the fuels category, more than offset a 3.2% decline in spending on gasoline.
Among other changes from 2017 to 2018:
Labor expenses fell $2.1 billion.
Spending on trucks and autos dropped $800 million.
Spending on farm improvements and construction fell $3.5 billion.
Big farms accounted for the majority of the sending. Farms with annual gross sales of $1 million to $4.999 million represented 32% of the national total, farms with annual gross sales of more than $5 billion accounted for 26.1%.
California farms led the nation with $36.8 billion in expenses.