The Age Of Positive Negatives

As a trade magazine editor, I spend a few hours each day reading through e-mails, press releases, and news stories searching for information. Reading over the English language daily in this way, I pretty much tend to skim over items in a quick fashion, usually watching for keywords that might invite a closer look.

Given this fact, it’s rare that a headline will cause me to do a double-take. Then there was the other day, when I did a triple-take. Reading through my e-mails, I came across the following headline: “CF 3Q Income Off Only 18%.”

Let that sink in a bit: Here was a high-profile fertilizer company celebrating the fact that its third quarter sales volume had declined by almost one-fifth. Of course, considering a few days earlier I had read stories about other fertilizer suppliers with revenue drops in the 90% range, I understood why this headline was worded the way it was.

Still, this troubled me. What kind of world are we living in where a double-digit loss in sales volume is hailed as a triumph? Unfortunately, this is the reality of today’s world when looking back at the past year and a half.

There’s no sugarcoating it: The end of 2008 and whole of 2009 have been some of the most bleak, downtrodden years I can remember. In the general economy, employers were shedding jobs at a record pace and once-healthy profits for manufacturers disappeared, seemingly overnight. In this atmosphere, market observers celebrate any news that was “less bad.”

The ag retail market suffered as well. During the summer months, I had many industry friends tell me they “couldn’t wait for 2009 to be over.” Others were more frank: “2009 was one of the most challenging years I can ever remember,” said one long-time retail rep. “And I was in this business back during the fertilizer crash of the early 1970s.”

With this in mind, I’ll admit I’ve fallen into this positive negative trap myself. When compiling numbers from this year’s CropLife 100 surveys, I was relieved when I saw sales volume fell by $200 million. Back in 2006 and 2007, I would have treated a $200 million decline in any revenue as a harbinger of doom. In 2009, this same figure elicited a sigh of relief from me.

Looking ahead to 2010, I’m not certain what fortunes awaits our industry. Elsewhere in this issue, you will find our first annual State of the Industry report, with insights and comments from dozens of industry insiders regarding where the ag retail marketplace stands today, in December 2009. This will hopefully serve as a bridge between the CropLife 100 retailers survey reviewing the past year and our forward-looking Outlook edition, coming next month.

As for me, I’ve obviously been affected by the events of 2009 just like everyone else. I’ve caught myself looking for news that’s “less bad” and sales declines that are small. But I equally look forward to the day when our industry gets back to a state of normalcy and negatives no longer equal positives.

Leave a Reply

Eric Sfiligoj Stories

Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s Guess
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
ARA
Eric SfiligojTaking The Industry’s Pulse At ARA
November 28, 2016
When most of you read this particular column, many of the industry’s key folks will probably be spending at least Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojCrop Protection Mergers: Will They Or Won’t They?
November 14, 2016
Fall is in full swing and many sports fans probably spend the better parts of their time looking at the Read More
Eric Sfiligoj2017 Agricultural Outlook Not As Dire?
November 7, 2016
As 2016 heads towards its conclusion, there are many of us in the agricultural marketplace already looking forward to what Read More
Trending Articles
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
STS16 2017
SprayersHagie Manufacturing Releases 2017 STS16 Sprayer To Market
November 16, 2016
Hagie Manufacturing LLC’s largest full season applicator is now available with enhancements for the 2017 model year. Hagie is officially Read More
Latest News
ManagementARA 2016 Report and Crop Mix for 2017
December 9, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent Agricultural Retailers Association meeting and the projected acreage mix for Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In …
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
Ryan Bartlett
Crop InputsCompass Minerals Appoints Vice President, Innovation An…
December 8, 2016
Ryan Bartlett, Ph.D., has joined Compass Minerals as vice president, innovation and product development. Dr. Bartlett will be responsible for Read More
HerbicidesHerbicides 2017: New Cropping Systems Set For Debut
December 7, 2016
Herbicide-resistant weed are inching ever-closer to a potentially frightening saturation point here in the U.S. Heading into 2016, USDA planting Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
December 7, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
Fertilizer storage The Andersons
CropLife 1002016 Fertilizer Report: Another Really Rough Year For A…
December 7, 2016
In many ways, the fertilizer category cannot seem to catch a break. During the early part of the 2010s decade, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Winter wheat
HerbicidesTalinor Herbicide Approved For Wheat And Barley
December 7, 2016
Talinor herbicide from Syngenta has received federal registration from the U.S. EPA, giving wheat and barley growers a new option Read More
Forage Sorghum
UncategorizedMilestone Achievement Continues For Dow AgroSciences, A…
December 7, 2016
New and innovative forage products are on the horizon driven by continued collaboration between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesNew WSSA Factsheet Explores Weed Seeds And Their Longev…
December 7, 2016
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Tim McCardle, ARA Chairman
CropLife 100BRANDT COO Named ARA Chairman
December 5, 2016
BRANDT EVP and Chief Operating Officer Tim McArdle has been named chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) during a Read More
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Mo…
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More