GRATTAN TOWNSHIP (WZZM) - One might think the drought that plagued the Midwest this year would result in low profits for farmers. That may be the case for fruit and animal producers, but another crop of farmers are eyeing normal to record profits.
Grattan Township farmer Dennis Heffron says he's had a near normal year, better than he expected.
The close of October is ending a whirlwind summer of stress.
"June was scary, July was scary," he said. "We feared the worst."
But thanks to his good irrigation system, wheat, soybeans, and corn are looking golden.
"There isn't any missing kernels, so it's a nice ear of corn," he said, pointing to a cob.
Michigan Farm Bureau Commodity and Marketing Manager Bob Boehm says farmers like Heffron who made it through the drought will do just fine and some will profit. That's because in June, Boehm says the Midwest drought sent crop prices skyrocketing 60 percent due to concerns of low yields.
They climbed $5.50/bushel to $8/bushel just before harvest.
"Which is pretty much unprecedented in that short of period," said Boehm.
The USDA reports net farm income will increase four percent, to a record high, but for those who didn't irrigate?
"That's the challenge when you have averages," said Boehm. "It's not evenly distributed because if it didn't rain in your area, or if you've got your crop frosted out this spring, then the price doesn't do you any good because you don't have any crop to sell."
But Heffron says that doesn't even tell the whole story.
"Some people might think it's a record year on prices, but most farmers contract ahead and some of the crop was contracted at a much reduced price. So if we could sell the whole crop at today's prices that would be great, but risk management tells us that you spread your risk out."
That means he won't walk off with the top dollar corn is now.
Add in the fact he also raises livestock, the term "record profits" makes him cringe.
"In terms of fertilizer, feed, and fuel, and those problems will have to be offset by the higher prices," said Boehm.
As for other Michigan farmers, Boehm says apple farmers should be completely covered by crop insurance, but cherry farmers are not covered at all. He says they suffered the biggest loss this year.