Look for a modest improvement in total net cash farm income this year, say Doane economists. Aggregate farm income plunged in 2002, falling by $9 billion to the lowest level since 1994. The drought, lower government payments, and disappointing livestock markets weighed heavily on the farm economy.

Doane economists look for better cattle prices to lead the recovery in 2003. Also, crop producers can expect larger government payments this year.

Despite the projected improvement to the mid-$50 area, net cash farm income will remain well below the upper $50 billion average of recent years.