Farmers have shrugged off a sluggish U.S. ec­­onomy to post three consecutive years of record farm income, but a reversal could come hard and fast, economists warned at last week’s Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit.

"I have a very positive outlook for our future, but I’m concerned about the bumps in the road," said Michael Boehlje, Purdue University agriculture economist. "I don’t want you to be road kill."

Agriculture booms like the one farmers have enjoyed over the past decade are generally followed by a period of lean years brought on by escalating costs and falling crop prices, said Moe Russell, president of Russell Consulting Group in Panora. Today’s situation is rem­­iniscent of previous boom-bust periods of the 1910s/20s and 1970s/80s, he said.

"There are cycles in agricultural production," said Russell. "As long as we have the human emotions of fear and greed, we’re going to have cycles."

With more money on the table, the...