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Wheat: A $40 million economic stimulus for county

KSU/Marion County Extension Agent

Another wheat crop is in the books for Marion County. We all realize that in Kansas, and certainly in Marion County, agriculture is an important part of our economy.

What is the value of the wheat crop, and how much does that stimulate our local economy? The total benefit is approximately $40 million.

It is important to keep the wheat crop in proper perspective. Yes, wheat is vitally important for many agronomic reasons. However, if we could not grow wheat, the land would not set idle; we would find something to grow.

Therefore, as opposed to looking at the value of wheat, I think it is more important to look at the value of grain farming as a whole. Wheat will be used in the following example, but the stimulus effect can be applied to all crops.

To evaluate the value of a wheat crop, we have to look at what we know, as well as the unknown. What do we know? Producers do report their plantings, so we know that in Marion County, roughly 120,000 acres were sown to wheat last fall.

What we don’t know is the yield. For this purpose, I looked at the county wheat plot, which had 13 varieties. They ranged from 43 to 63 bushels per acre with an average of 52.

We also don’t know the price. There are different ways to market grain. Some producers employ sophisticated methods, while others simply market over the scales. To determine an average price is difficult.

The July wheat contract hit a high of around $6.75 per bushel in early June, but since then, it has fallen about $1.75. At the time of this writing, it is below $5 for the first time, which will be used as the average price.

Using these numbers, the 2009 wheat crop had a gross value of about $31 million.

What is the impact? According to the Kansas State University office of local government, every $1 in income from grain farming will generate an additional 33 cents in income for the county. With this in mind, the 2009 wheat crop is potentially a $40 million dollar stimulus package for Marion County.

Last modified July 8, 2009

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