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

MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
Soybean Closeup
Eric SfiligojGlyphosate and Dicamba Facing War In-Between the States
July 10, 2017
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for crop protection products containing glyphosate and dicamba. First, in late June, the Read More
Young Corn Plants
Eric SfiligojLaunching New Seed Traits: Wait on China . . . Or Else!
June 26, 2017
In life, no one likes the waiting game. In agriculture, however, playing the waiting game is very important – especially Read More
United States Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Eric SfiligojBudget Battle Agitating Ag
June 5, 2017
President Donald Trump has made waves with many groups when it comes to health care reform, immigration policy, and proposed Read More
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Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an American Pastime
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application Parameters
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto Responds to Arkansas, Missouri Dicamba Bans
July 10, 2017
Monsanto, provider of the dicamba-tolerant Roundup Ready Xtend crop system for soybeans and cotton, issued the following statement on Friday, Read More
Retail FacilitiesPCS-Hammond Meets Fertilizer Storage Needs with New Dome Facility
July 8, 2017
The new barrel dome facility at the PCS-Hammond Regional Distribution Center in Hammond, IN, can hold more than 100,000 tons Read More
PrecisionAg Vision Conference
Precision AgPrecisionAg® Vision Conference: Focused on the Future
June 13, 2017
PrecisionAg® is pleased to announce the return of its PrecisionAg Vision Conference, October 10-12, 2017. Based on overwhelmingly positive response Read More
Latest News
ManagementCropLife Retail Week: Dicamba Update and InfoAg Preview
July 21, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Paul Schrimpf discuss reports from the field and comments from Monsanto about dicamba drift this season, Read More
Stewardship‘Gonna Fly Now’ with Environmental Respect
July 20, 2017
One of the most memorable moments in movie history occurred in the Academy Award-winning 1976 film “Rocky.” Haven gotten his Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect: Grand Grounds, Posters Parade
July 19, 2017
To celebrate their accomplishments in the area of environmental stewardship, award recipients at the 2017 Environmental Respect week spent much Read More
StewardshipHarden’s Message to ERA Winners: Do Tell Your Good Stor…
July 19, 2017
As the daughter of a peanut farmer, Krysta Harden, Chief Sustainability Officer for DuPont Crop Protection, understands the importance the Read More
StewardshipFarming Smarter Hinges on 4R Best Management Practices
July 18, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
StewardshipEnvironmental Respect 2017 Kicks Off Enjoying an Americ…
July 18, 2017
Following months of planning and scheduling, the 2017 Environmental Respect Awards (ERA) celebration kicked off in fine fashion as more Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
OpinionPicking Partners in the Crop Protection Market
July 17, 2017
Agriculture is a market awash in highs, lows, and everything in between. This is certainly true in the world of Read More
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EquipmentGPS Auto Steer: Innovating in a Mature Market
July 17, 2017
In the world of Big IRON, GPS auto steer has closely mirrored the evolutionary path of consumer GPS Navigation systems Read More
MFA-Centralia-MO
Eric SfiligojThe Resilience of Ag Retailers
July 17, 2017
After covering the ag retail market for 17 years, I think one of the most impressive character traits I’ve seen Read More
SERA-meeting
Stewardship4R Event Explores How to Minimize Phosphorus Losses
July 17, 2017
This year the Southern Extension and Research Activity (SERA) – 17; will be meeting in Oregon, OH, from August 14-17. Read More
Students Soybean Field
StewardshipCCA 4R Study Guide Available
July 17, 2017
In June the International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) released the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) 4R Nutrient Management Specialist (4R NMS) Read More
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FertilizerThe 4Rs and Potassium
July 17, 2017
Are we meeting crop K needs? Using the 4R nutrient stewardship approach of selecting the right source at the right Read More
Soil Young Corn
StewardshipTop 10 Themes from the 2017 4R Nutrient Stewardship Sum…
July 17, 2017
Preserving water quality while feeding another 2 billion people by 2050 is the challenge facing North America’s farmers and its Read More
Soybean Field Sunset
Crop InputsWhich is Better for Soybeans: Fall or Spring Applicatio…
July 17, 2017
There have been many questions about fall versus spring applications of phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) to soybeans, writes Dr. T. Read More
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Crop InputsRecognizing Potassium Deficiency Symptoms in Crops
July 17, 2017
Some crops exhibit characteristic deficiency symptoms when adequate amounts of K are not available for growth and development, according to Read More
ManagementComplexity in Agriculture: The Rise (and Fall?) of Mons…
July 17, 2017
Sometimes it seems as if the ag world is changing so fast that we can barely keep up with it Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto: Illegal, Improper Use at Root of Drift Proble…
July 14, 2017
Monsanto isn’t backing down from the position that its tool — the Roundup Ready Xtend dicamba-tolerant system for soybeans and Read More
Soybean Closeup
Crop InputsMissouri Lifts Dicamba Ban, Issues Stricter Application…
July 14, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has lifted its barely week-old ban on new dicamba technologies, which have been at the Read More