Happy New Fear

Usually, I love this time of the year. The holidays always have a festive feel that brings back memories of childhood. Also, our magazine presents its annual CropLife 100 report, detailing the fortunes of the nation’s largest retailers. This year is particularly special because the CropLife 100 is turning 25, and we are celebrating with all the silver trimmings — not to mention a host of market insights gleaned from our survey. As you will see in stories and charts sprinkled throughout this issue, ag retailers have plenty to be thankful for this holiday season.

Yes, by all accounts, it should be a joyous time of the year for everyone that works in and makes a living from our industry.

And I’ve never been more scared for us.

By now, everyone has read, heard, or chanced upon news of the nation’s rapidly falling economic fortunes. Considering nightly newscasts regularly start out by reviewing the day on Wall Street and the country’s quickly expanding bailout deficit, it’s hard not to catch this negative information. Besides the country-at-large, state governments are running up huge budget shortfalls as their tax revenues dry up.

Then, there’s the effect on workers. As I write this column, more than 1.5 million workers have been laid off. And with the news that General Motors and Ford continue to rack up losses, more layoffs are sure to follow. In fact, by the time the calendar turns, analysts expect that the unemployment rate will be nearing a 20-year high of 8%.

Fortunately, the agriculture marketplace has been relatively immune to these negative goings-on. According to figures from the 2008 CropLife 100 survey, the nation’s top retailers had revenue of more than $19 billion this year, up an incredible 30% from 2007. Ag retailers also remain positive about the outlook for 2009, with 49% ranking their level of optimism for the year at a seven out of 10 or better. Only 15% think their business fortunes will be less positive during the upcoming year.

In a similar fashion, the industry’s grower-customers had a great year in 2008. According to USDA, net farm income for the year rose 10% to a record $95.7 billion.

Furthermore, the value of crop production increased 25% to $188.8 billion as major crop prices remained strong.

So you must be asking, with all this positive news from agriculture, why am I afraid for the future? Because right now, our industry seems to be an island in the midst of a terrible, widespread storm. How long will it be before cash-starved entities such as state and local governments start looking to us — and our $100 billion revenue stream in 2008 — to help them out of their financial woes in 2009?

Naturally, ag retailers need to be wary of any attempts by the legislature to alter their tax status to get this money for themselves. This could be potentially devastating for retailers, especially ones that have competitors “just over the border” in states that may not be in such dire financial straits.
Hopefully, it won’t come to this. But being an island of plenty in a sea of poverty is always dangerous . . .

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Eric Sfiligoj Stories

Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Dow DuPont
Eric SfiligojCrop Protection Mergers: Entering the Endgame
May 1, 2017
One year ago, plenty of people within the ag market were openly wondering what the industry would look like once Read More
Eric SfiligojHope for Application Equipment Sales
April 24, 2017
The old saying goes that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” If this is indeed the case, then things may Read More
Trending Articles
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LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Agriculture
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
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EquipmentSpray Application: A Nozzle Renaissance
May 2, 2017
If you had asked four-decade ag veteran Mark Bartel, President of Wilger Inc., just a few years ago what lay Read More
ManagementWashington Update, Dow-DuPont Earnings, and the Passing of an AGCO Legend
April 27, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the latest Beltway news, crop protection company 1st quarter numbers, and the Read More
Crop InputsFlying Under the Radar No More, FMC Goes Big
April 13, 2017
Describing FMC as “under the radar,” admittedly, is probably a stretch. But in a snap of the fingers, FMC upped Read More
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April 1, 2017
There’s no denying it — the agricultural marketplace today is undergoing a fundamental shift in fortunes. Not too many years Read More
Latest News
Food IT Fork-to-Farm
Precision AgThe Mixing Bowl Event Connects Technology, Food, and Ag…
May 24, 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, The Mixing Bowl presents FOOD IT, under the theme “Fork to Farm.” Action-oriented entrepreneurs, industry Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
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May 24, 2017
A single seed seems so simple. Put it in the ground, give it some care, and you’ve soon grown food. Read More
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May 24, 2017
Syngenta has announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Launches New Seed Treatment Fungicide
May 22, 2017
Syngenta has announced the launch of PLENARIS seed treatment fungicide for the control of downy mildew in sunflower. PLENARIS contains Read More
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Crop InputsMonsanto’s First HPPD Herbicide Garners EPA Appro…
May 19, 2017
Monsanto announced today that EPA has federally approved Harness MAX Herbicide, the first herbicide in the Monsanto portfolio to provide Read More
ManagementPrecision Planting Deal, China Developments, and Enviro…
May 18, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the latest news on John Deere’s now dead deal for Precision Planting, China’s Read More
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InsecticidesMulti-state Research Reveals IPM Best Option for Treatm…
May 17, 2017
About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the U.S. in 2017 — a record high, according to Read More
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CropLife 100GROWMARK Names 2017 Summer Interns
May 16, 2017
Forty-two college students are exploring agricultural career opportunities this summer as GROWMARK interns. They are working at FS member cooperatives Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Ag…
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
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FertilizerBoth Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss
May 15, 2017
The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. Read More
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Precision AgAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
ManagementOpinion: Shaking Your Perspective in Ag Retail
May 12, 2017
Some of you I’m sure have encountered our recently retired salesman extraordinaire, Dan Bellanger. He worked in the industry for Read More
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CropLife 100New Alternative Weed Resistance Traits Could Experience…
May 12, 2017
It wasn’t too many years ago that ag retailers and their grower-customers could hardly wait for new options to fight Read More
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Crop InputsFMC Agricultural Solutions, Casa Pacifica Partner to He…
May 11, 2017
FMC Agricultural Solutions is teaming up with Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, an organization that supports vulnerable children Read More
UncategorizedWhat’s Up With ARA
May 11, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj talks with Brian Reuwee regarding what issues are on the docket for the Agricultural Retailers Association. Read More
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Precision AgQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision …
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More