You didn't have to have the best management skills in 2008 to make a reasonable income. Now, "manage-ment skills are going to make the difference,” says Michael Boehlje, Purdue University ag economist.
"If you look at the full cost to produce an acre of corn for average yield and productivity, we're back in the same kind of negative margin we had in 2003–2005,” he says. "For a 1,000-acre corn/soybean farmer, that's minus $80/acre; for a 3,000-acre farm, it's minus $50.
See 2010 cost and return estimates from several universities.