Farmer’s Business Network, Inc., the independent farmer-to-farmer network, has released The Voice of the Farmer, a special research report on the state of American agriculture and the challenges facing farmers.
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.
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. We 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.