MITCHELL, SD (AP)--Farm profits in 2000 fell by 6.4% for farmers enrolled in the Farm-Ranch Business Management Program at two technical institutes.

The average net farm profit was $58,869 in 2000, compared with $62,918 in 1999. Net profit represents money earned before business expansion, loan principal payments and family living expenses are paid.

"Higher crop yields and higher beef prices in '99 account for the difference," Roger DeRouchey, program instructor at Mitchell Technical Institute, said. "This is really about eastern South Dakota. The information is compiled from people who participate in the program."

The program is offered at Mitchell Technical Institute and Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown to help producers upgrade their farm management skills.

Net farm profits for the group averaged $56,036 in 1996, $48,253 in 1997, $41,515 in 1998, and $62,918 in 1999.

"Before 1999, beef and pork prices were very low," DeRouchey said. "Right now, the good prices for beef and pork in comparison to feed prices allows producers to make a profit."

Because farmers are able to make a profit, they also are able to increase net worth or owner's equity, DeRouchey said.

In 2000, producers increased their equity $36,821 or 7.4%. In 1999, the average increase was $47,597, or 10.43%, DeRouchey said.

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