USDA forecasts that U.S. farmers will see record amounts of money, thanks to increased government subsidies and growth in the livestock industry.

This boost in agricultural wealth comes as lawmakers prepare to overhaul U.S. farm law. Congress enacted $5.5 billion this summer to offset the fourth year in a row of low grain prices.

"For commercial-size operations, this year's economic conditions have
favored those farms specializing in livestock production," says USDA.

The agency estimates U.S. net cash farm income for 2001 at $60.8 billion, up $3.3 billion from last year and slightly above the previous record set in 1993. The amount represents the total amount farmers could receive this year, regardless of the year in which their crops were produced.

USDA says 2001 net farm income – money taken in from this year's crop – is forecast at $49.4 billion, down $1 billion from the previous estimate but $3 billion higher than last year.

Dairy operations are expected to show the most improvement in 2001, with average net cash income rising almost $40,000 per farm from last year, according to USDA.

Whereas, net cash farm income for wheat farms was projected to drop by about $9,000 per farm when compared to 2000.

"Government payments will continue to be an important source of farm
income," says USDA.

Debate of the $73 billion "farm bill" in the House of Representatives was delayed after the Sept. 11 hijacked plane attacks on New York and the Pentagon that claimed thousands of lives. Lawmakers are scheduled to debate the bill next week.

The bill would increase crop supports by $43 billion over 10 years along with guaranteeing more money – an estimated $37 billion – would flow automatically when crop revenues were below "target" prices chosen by Congress.