By Associated Press - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Officials say Kansas’s average net farm income has plummeted from nearly $129,000 in 2014 to about $4,500 last year.

According to annual Kansas Farm Management Association data, 2015 was the lowest average level of nominal net farm income since 1985. The Manhattan Mercury ( ) reports that the average had been more than $120,000 for several years until 2015.

The Wichita Eagle ( ) reports that farmers generally saw extraordinary returns between 2010 and 2014 because of high crop and cattle prices, driven in part by drought. But those prices fell drastically over the last 12 to 18 months, and incomes reflect that.

Last year’s result generally means that farmers won’t have much money available to take on additional debt or incur extraordinary expenses, but they should be able to cover living and farm operating costs and pay existing debts, said Elizabeth Yeager, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University.

“Historically, lean times are not uncommon, but given the prices we saw the last few years in net farm income, it definitely has come as a shock,” Yeager said. “They had come pretty far and probably didn’t want to be back here again.”

The data presented in the 2015 analysis came from 1,159 association member farms and ranches.

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