No one with seed in the shed or vaccine in the ice box will be surprised to know that higher costs and lower prices mean folks are making less money in agriculture this year.

In round numbers, USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) estimates net farm income for 2009 at $54 billion, a whopping 38% below the preliminary estimate for net income last year. That’s also $9 billion less than the average $63.2 billion annual net income over the past decade.

Closer to home, ERS analysts say, “In 2009, average family farm household income is forecast to be $75,895, down 5.2% from 2008, and 8% below the five-year average for 2004-08. In 2009, the average family farm is forecast to receive 7.6% of its household income from farm sources, with the rest from earned and unearned off-farm income.”

For the week ending Aug. 30, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service:

Corn – 5% is at or beyond the dough stage, 6% behind last year, and 13% slower than average. Development to the dough stage was active across much of the growing region where cooler temperatures and readily available soil moisture continued to provide nearly ideal conditions. 32% of acreage reached the dent stage, 10% behind last year and 28% behind normal. Progress to the dent stage was behind normal in all estimating states except Colorado and North Carolina. Lags of 33 points or more were evident in the Dakotas, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota. 5% of the acreage has reached maturity, 1% behind last year and 8% behind the five-year average. The crop was most mature in North Carolina and Texas. 69% is reported Good to Excellent, 8% more than a year ago.

Soybeans – Pod setting reached 93%, which is on par with last year, but 3% behind average. Pod development remained active across the major soybean-producing regions of the country despite below average temperatures. Leaf drop had occurred on 3% of the nation’s acreage, 1% behind last year and 5% behind average. Leaf drop was most advanced on acreage in the Delta; however, progress in Mississippi was 34 points behind normal. 69% is rated as Good to Excellent, which is 8% more than at the same time last year.

Spring wheat – 38% has been harvested, which is 40% behind last year and 41% behind the average pace. There were significant delays in all estimating states, with the biggest lag evident in North Dakota, the largest spring wheat-producing state, where harvest was over three weeks behind normal. 72% of the crop was rated Good to Excellent.

Barley – 46% is harvested, which is 32% in back of last year and 35% behind the average pace. Harvest was active in all estimating states, but progress remained behind normal. 78% is rated Good to Excellent.

Sorghum – 92% is at or beyond heading, 5% ahead of last year and 1% ahead of the average pace. Despite surplus rainfall, 24% of the crop in Illinois developed heads during the week, but overall progress remained 18 points, or more than one week, behind normal. Sorghum coloring has reached 49% complete, 5% behind last year and 8 points behind the five-year average. Coloring progress was active across much of the growing region but was behind in all estimating states except Colorado, Louisiana and Texas. 31% has reached maturity, on par with last year and the average. In Kansas, the largest sorghum-producing state, the sorghum crop had yet to reach maturity, leaving overall progress over two weeks behind normal. 28% is in the bin, 1% more than last year and 2% more than average. 49%is rated Good to Excellent, 2% less than the same time a year ago.

Oats – 85% of the crop is in the bin, which is 11% behind last year and the five-year average. Harvest was most active in North Dakota; however, progress remained 44 points behind normal.

Pasture – 52% of the nation’s pasture and range is still rated as Good or Excellent this summer, 13% more than at the same time last year. 22% is rated Poor or Very Poor, compared to 30% a year ago.

States with the worst pasture conditions – at least 40% of the acreage rated Poor or worse – include: Arizona (80%); California (90%); and Texas (54%).

The lushest conditions – at least 40% rated Good or better – exist in: Alabama (78%); Arkansas (67%); Colorado (50%); Florida (80%); Georgia (52%); Idaho (68%); Illinois (74%); Indiana (65%); Iowa (68%); Kansas (62%); Kentucky (77%); Louisiana (50%); Maine (73%); Maryland (60%); Minnesota (48%); Mississippi (60%); Missouri (69%); Nebraska (71%); Nevada (51%); New York (70%); North Carolina (61%); North Dakota (62%); Ohio (58%); Oklahoma (51%); Pennsylvania (65%); South Carolina (44%); South Dakota (71%); Tennessee (78%); Utah (56%); Virginia (63%); West Virginia (73%); and Wyoming (56%).