U.S. farmers spent a record-high $351.8 billion on agricultural production in 2012, a 10.4% increase from 2011, according to the National Ag Statistics Service's Farm Production Expenditures report, released Friday.
Per farm, the average expenditures totaled $162,743 compared with $146,653 in 2011, up 11%. On average, U.S. farm operations spent $27,338 on feed, $18,457 on farm services, $14,802 on livestock, poultry and related expenses, and $14,247 on labor.
Crop farms accounted for the majority of production expenditures in 2012, the report found. These expenditures totaled $200 billion, increasing 17.4% from 2011.
Low interest rates boosted new machinery purchases in 2012, increasing the overall farm expenditures for the year. Chemicals, fertilizers, and seeds also cost crop farmers $55.5 billion last year, accounting for 27.8% of crop farms total expense.
As for fuel, farmers spent $15.4 billion in the category last year. Diesel, the largest sub component, is $10.3 billion, accounting for 66.9%. That's up 2.2% from the previous year. Gasoline is $3.1 billion, up 11.1%. LP gas is $1.3 billion, down 19.3%. Other fuel is $700 million, down 14.6%.
Livestock farmers spent $152 billion, up 2.4% from 2011. The largest expenditure for livestock farms was feed, on which the producers spent $54.4 billion in 2012. USDA said the drought reduced feed availability, causing prices to climb last year. In turn, 2012's feed expenditures made it the costliest category in the entire agriculture sector.
In 2012, total expenditures by region were: Midwest, $112 billion; Plains, $88.8 billion; West, $69.9 billion; Atlantic, $42.6 billion; and South, $38.6 billion.
Regionally, the largest increase in production expenditures was in the Plains, where expenditures rose by $15 billion from 2011.
Survey estimates are based on the results of the nationwide Agricultural Resource Management Survey, conducted annually by NASS.