The Voice of the Farmer: Farm profits are under pressure


What’s on farmers’ minds in 2017? Farmers Business Network, the independent farmer-to-farmer network,  can tell you through their report: The Voice of the Farmer.

The Voice of the Farmer examines the state of modern day farming through a combination of candid interviews with farmers and analysis of millions of acres of real farm yield and thousands of farmer seed and chemical invoices and price records.

“Independent family farms are the core of our food system, but are too often left out of the most important discussions affecting their livelihoods,” said FBNSMnetwork Co-Founder & VP of Product, Charles Baron. “We created The Voice of the Farmer to examine the most pressing issues facing farmers and what they mean for their farm incomes and the future of their industry.”

What’s on Farmers’ Minds and What the Data Says:

  • Farm profits are under pressure. Despite record high yields in 2016, many farmers saw both revenue and profits fall last year as a result of low commodity prices and high input costs.
  • Ag industry consolidation will likely further hurt farm incomes. The report analyzed thousands of recent seed and chemical invoices by farmers as well as their related yield results from millions of acres. The analysis found that with market share increases among input manufacturers, come higher prices for farmers in both seed and chemical. Furthermore, yield gains from innovation tapered off as input manufacturers gained market share.
  • Farm consolidation is putting pressure on independent farmers and is changing the business practices and productivity of operations. Farmer’s Business Network studied the relationship between farm size, price paid for inputs, and yields relative to revenue trends. Larger farms typically pay less for key inputs and concentrate buying from major seed brands but not major chem brands. Larger farms also realize lower yields per acre as it becomes harder to optimize each individual field.
  • Health care coverage and cost is a major concern for farm families. A family of five might pay thousands of dollars for health care premiums, forcing farm families to add off-farm jobs and further pressuring their profits.
  • Technology needs to prove its ROI, but is creating reasons for optimism. With incomes under pressure, farmers are questioning the true ROI of many farm technologies. Though despite the scrutiny, technology innovations are creating new sources of optimism.

The full 72 page Voice of the Farmer report includes first of its kind analysis on the impact of consolidation and increasing market share among input manufacturers on the prices farmers pay. The report draws directly from millions of acres of anonymized precision crop yield records spanning thousands of seeds and their associated prices actually paid by farmers.

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