CropLife 100: 30/30 Vision

For those of us here at CropLife® magazine, this is a special occasion. Thirty years ago this month, the then-editors of this publication decided to compile a listing of the nation’s top ag retail establishments. Thus the CropLife 100 was born!

Over the past three decades, this annual survey has served as a benchmark for the health of the entire marketplace. It has given rise to a ranking of the top retailers by sales, dozens of industry trends articles, hundreds of graphs and countless hours of debating all of the above by the readers themselves. Elsewhere in this edition, you will find a detailed look at some of the most important ag retail industry-oriented events to take place during the CropLife 100’s tenure.

For me personally, the CropLife 100 represents a special effort. When I first started at what was then known as Farm Chemicals magazine in the fall of 2000, helping compile that year’s CropLife 100 was the very first project I ever worked on. At that time (before computer databases), all of the collected data had to be figured out using pen, calculator and paper — a process which typically took weeks to complete!

Looking back at the data from those early CropLife 100 issues is eye-opening. Back in 1984, the first listing had ag retailers earning more than $80 million per year at the top. On the first CropLife 100 I worked on in 2000, the top companies earned in the $500 million sales range.

Today, ag retailers earning $80 million per year fall in the middle of the pack. The top ag retailers in 2013 have yearly revenue in the billions, not millions, of dollars.

The crop input/service category breakout has also radically changed. Back in 1984, crop protection products held the lion’s share of all industry sales, with fertilizer a distant second and seed barely a blip on the sales radar. Today, fertilizer is the undisputed king of the crop inputs/services financial hill. Seed sales account for not quite 1/5 of total revenues. Meanwhile, crop protection products sits in second place, down approximately 50% from their glory days in the mid-1980s.

Of course, what’s really fun is to speculate what the CropLife 100 (and by extension, the entire ag retail industry) will look like 30 years down the road in 2043. If projections are correct, the world’s population by this time will be between nine and 10 billion. I would also speculate that, due to consolidation and increased materials costs, the nation’s top ag retailers will be annually earning somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 billion, with approximately 1/3 of the companies tallying more than $1 billion in yearly sales.

Among the categories, ongoing developments in biotech seed should help push this sector to a 30% market share, probably 10% higher than the percentage held by crop protection.

So in closing, I salute the CropLife 100 for what it represents to the ag retail industry! Here’s hoping the next 30 years are as exciting and thought-provoking as the past 30 have been.

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CropLife 100 Stories

Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
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February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
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Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More