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
Engenia soybeans
Special ReportsResistant Weeds Continue To Confound Control Efforts
October 1, 2016
In the annals of weed scientists, 2017 will mark a milestone of sorts. This will be the 60th anniversary of Read More
CHS St. Paul, MN fertilizer terminal
CropLife 100Farmers Union Oil Co. Votes To Join CHS
September 30, 2016
Eligible voting members of Farmers Union Oil Co., a diversified agricultural retailer based out of Oslo, MN, have cast affirmative Read More
EmployeesOABA Program Develops Future Generation Of Agribusiness…
September 29, 2016
The Ohio AgriBusiness Association will select up to 25 promising leaders to participate in a leadership enhancement program early next Read More
ManagementThoughts on CropLife America and the PSM Appeal
September 29, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent CropLife America annual meeting and the successful appeal of the Read More
Corn Field
Industry NewsMarrone Bio Innovations’ SVP And Chief Sustainability O…
September 29, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc., a leading provider of effective and environmentally responsible pest management and plant health products, announced today Read More
Young Corn Field
StewardshipStudy: Ohio Farmers Doing ‘A Good Job Of Managing…
September 27, 2016
Leaders from Ohio’s largest grain farming organizations announced today that Ohio farmers are doing their part in effectively managing phosphorus Read More
Growmark FS Outlet
Industry NewsGROWMARK To Purchase Suncor’s Share Of UPI
September 26, 2016
GROWMARK and Suncor have reached an agreement in which GROWMARK will purchase Suncor’s 50% interest in UPI, Inc. in Ontario, Read More
Corn Field
Eric SfiligojFacing Ag Industry Challenges
September 26, 2016
At the 2016 annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in September, a pair of crop protection company representatives discussed Read More
Syngenta Seedcare Institute
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Opens New North America Seedcare Institute In …
September 23, 2016
Syngenta unveiled its new Seedcare Institute in Stanton, MN, during a recent grand opening celebration. More than 150 industry leaders, Read More
StewardshipMonsanto Invests $1.6 Million In System To Quantify Gre…
September 23, 2016
The USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) recently awarded the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and its Soil Health Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
ManagementPacific Coast Fertilizer Announces Interest In Longview…
September 22, 2016
Pacific Coast Fertilizer LP (PCF) announced at the Cowlitz Economic Development Council board of directors meeting its interest in developing Read More
Young corn plants in soil
UncategorizedCool Planet Raises Additional $9 Million To Commerciali…
September 22, 2016
Cool Planet has announced the first close of a new financing round to commercialize the company’s Cool Terra Engineered Biocarbon Read More
Crop InputsJim Loar Promoted To President And CEO Of Cool Planet
September 22, 2016
In a move that reflects and reinforces the company’s commitment to the agricultural market, the Cool Planet board of directors Read More
BlendersNorth Dakota Coop Debuts Dry Fertilizer Plant
September 22, 2016
North Central Grain Cooperative has begun operations at a new dry fertilizer plant at its Rolla, ND, site. It is Read More
Crop InputsMonsanto, Bayer Officials Defend Proposed $66 Billion M…
September 21, 2016
Top officials for Monsanto and Bayer defended their proposed $66 billion merger before skeptical senators on Tuesday, insisting that the Read More
ManagementUpcoming Shows & Recent Events
September 19, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about upcoming trade shows and events and review the Mid America CropLife Association Read More
Industry NewsVerdesian Life Sciences Appoints New CEO
September 19, 2016
Verdesian Life Sciences, a plant health and nutrition company, today announced that its board of directors has named Kenneth M. Avery Read More