A Dangerous Trade Off

Without question, these are extra-ordinary times. The nation is suffering from its worst economic downturn since the 1930s. From agriculture’s perspective, USDA is projecting net farm income — the lifeblood for grower-customers — will drop from the high $80-billion-range in 2008 to a mid $50-billion-mark.

Naturally, this state of the world has caused myriad ag-oriented businesses to pull in the reins and horde cash. Many have cut back on their expenses as a result, including advertising/marketing and trade association dues/involvement.

This kind of reminds me of what happens with homeowners during an extended drought. They typically stop watering the lawn and trees when the prospects for rain seem slim. Trouble is, when the drought ends, the lawn comes back rather quickly. A tree once dead, however, stays dead.

As with a water drought, economic droughts also end. Similar to the lawn/tree analogy, advertising/marketing dollars usually come back into the market very quickly. Trade association dues/involvement? Historically, that generally takes more time to recover.

Let me go on record as saying that cutting trade association involvement could have some very serious consequences in the long run. This is particularly true given the current state of uncertainty in the nation’s capital.

A quick glance at some of the issues currently making the rounds in Congress proves this point: Climate change, controlling emissions, reducing carbon footprints, protecting water quality, and energy needs. And many of these outcomes are all the more difficult to predict, say observers, with the extremely polarized agendas of Democrats and Republicans in play.

“I have followed ag policy in Wash­ington for over 40 years,” says Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University. “I’ve never seen it more partisan and more mean-spirited.”

In this legislative climate, Dr. Ste­phen Johnson, former US EPA administrator, says it is very important for agriculture to be informed and involved in the legislative process. “The only way for ag not to be subject to regulations —and ridiculous regulations —is for you all to help get legislation that makes sense passed,” says Johnson. “Make sure you are taking part in the legislative process.”

Flinchbaugh agrees with this view. “There’s an old adage in the political world: You can either get into the tent and spit out or stand outside the tent and spit in,” he says. “If you do that, you will get spit on. We’ve got to get into this tent and help development this legislation.”

When it comes to being involved in Washington, trade associations are the easiest way for our industry to have its voice heard. The heads of these groups are skilled at protecting our industry from potentially harmful legislation. Given the evidence, now would be a very bad time to stop supporting trade associations and take our chances that lawmakers will do the right thing.

Leave a Reply

Latest News
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
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 201…
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More