Reflecting national trends, Kentucky’s farm economy did extremely well in 2011, with farm cash receipts likely to exceed $5 billion for the first time, up from $4.4 billion in 2010, estimate agricultural economists with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Official U.S. Department of Agriculture 2011 cash receipts for Kentucky won’t be released until summer 2012, but UK Extension Professor Will Snell said the team of UK economists is seeing improvement in returns in corn, soybeans, wheat, cattle, horses, hogs and dairy. Net farm income is expected to rebound back above $1 billion in 2011, compared to $780 million in 2010.

Growth was seen across the nation, despite a severe drought in some areas of the country. The USDA projects U.S. net farm income will reach a record high of $100.9 billion, up 28 percent over last year and 50 percent higher than the 10-year average.

Snell and UK Agricultural Economists Craig Infanger and Kenny Burdine agree that the force behind the improved financial returns in agriculture is the boom in exports over the past two years and the strong demand for grains for biofuel production.

“U.S. farm exports plunged in 2009, but then jumped to $109 billion last year,” Snell said. “Ag exports rebounded to a record $137 billion in 2011. It’s not so much that the volume of exports has been impressive; it’s that prices have soared.”

Snell, Infanger, Burdine and fellow UK agricultural economists Cory Walters and Tim Woods, along with Kentucky Farm Business Management Program Coordinator Jerry Pierce presented a 2012 Kentucky farm economic outlook and an overview of 2011 as part of the annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation conference in Louisville.