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

Featured Stories

StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara International
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipThree Ohio Ag Retailers Honored With 4R Certification
October 13, 2014
The 4R Nutrient Stewardship Certification Program has announced its first three agriculture nutrient service providers to achieve certified status. Read More

Trending Articles

InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScience
October 20, 2014
Once the acquisition is complete, Platform Specialty Products will combine Arysta LifeScience with previously acquired companies Agriphar and Chemtura Crop Solutions. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Offers New Support For Ferguson, Area Communities
October 8, 2014
Monsanto Co. has committed $1 million in new support for several collaborative efforts in Ferguson, MO, and surrounding communities in North St. Louis County. Read More
Seed/BiotechUnapproved Genetically Modified Wheat Found In Montana
October 3, 2014
USDA reports that one year after discovery of Monsanto's unapproved wheat in a single Oregon field disrupted U.S. wheat export sales, the GMO wheat has again been found in Montana. Read More
Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
The deadline to vote for the 2014 CropLife IRON Product of the Year is October 31. Please cast your vote today to help us determine the winner. Read More
FertilizerFall Fertility 2014: Forecasting Fertilizer Use
September 7, 2014
Great crops this year have tapped the soil, and fall work is definitely called for, but how challenging will that get? Read More

Latest News

Seed CareSeed Care Success Stories: Hefty Seed And Monsanto BioA…
November 1, 2014
Growers in the Dakotas have always looked for extra ways to boost crop nutrients to their seeds, with plenty of help from their ag retail partners. Read More
Seed CareThe Growing Importance Of Seed Care
November 1, 2014
Ag retailers continue to value the seed treatment portions of their businesses — as do their grower-customers. Read More
Seed CareGrowing The Future Of Seed Treatment Equipment
November 1, 2014
Seed treatment equipment manufacturers are focusing on flexibility and customer stewardship. Read More
Soybean Field
Seed CareState Of Seed Care Study: Top 8 Key Findings (Infograph…
November 1, 2014
Results from our survey of ag retailers provide valuable insight into the state of the seed care industry. Read More
StewardshipTFI Recognizes Michigan, Maryland Farms For 4R Stewards…
October 31, 2014
As farming practices increasingly attract interest from the general public, two farmers are ensuring they meet public approval. Read More
Eric SfiligojBig Brother Is Already Watching
October 31, 2014
Opponents to UAVs seem to think they could be used to spy on other people. But spying is already taking place, through the Internet. Read More
StewardshipAsmark Institute’s New Training Center Focused On…
October 31, 2014
The newly dedicated Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture will be used as a national training and education center for professionals in the ag input industry. Read More
StewardshipCTIC Tour Dives Deep Into Everglades
October 31, 2014
The most recent Conservation In Action Tour (CTIC) hit South Florida recently to tour the Everglades Agricultural Area. Read More
StewardshipResponsibleAg Begins Auditor Training
October 31, 2014
ResponsibleAg auditor training is now underway at the Ford B. West Center for Responsible Agriculture in Owensboro, KY. Read More
CropLife 100ValueAct Buys Stake In Fertilizer Dealer Agrium
October 30, 2014
ValueAct has bought 8.2 million shares in Calgary, Alberta-based Agrium, making them the second largest investor in the fertilizer dealer. Read More
InsecticidesNew Research Study Shows The Value Of Neonics
October 29, 2014
The study evaluated seed treatment, soil and foliar uses of neonicotinoid insecticides in the U.S. and Canada. Read More
StewardshipUSDA To Provide $4 Million For Honey Bee Habitat
October 29, 2014
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that more than $4 million in technical and financial assistance will be provided to Read More
Crop InputsValent Launches New Low VOC ProGibb LV Plus Plant Growt…
October 29, 2014
ProGibb LV Plus PGR is a high-potency, liquid gibberellic acid formulation designed to comply with California’s new air quality standards for high volatile organic compound agricultural products. Read More
Crop InputsBayer CropScience Acquires Certain DuPont Crop Protecti…
October 29, 2014
Bayer CropScience and DuPont Crop Protection have signed an agreement for Bayer to purchase certain DuPont Crop Protection Land Management assets in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand. Read More
ManagementWest Central Names New President
October 29, 2014
West Central’s board of directors have announced their unanimous decision to name Milan Kucerak President and CEO-elect following Jeff Stroburg’s retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Read More
InsecticidesValent U.S.A., MGK Form Marketing Agreement
October 24, 2014
Valent has formed an agreement with Minneapolis-based MGK to manage the marketing and sales of MGK’s crop protection line of insect control products within the U.S. beginning April 1, 2015. Read More
StewardshipFlorida’s 4R Advocate Keeps Improving
October 24, 2014
Florida farmer Alan Jones uses the 4R principles of nutrient stewardship as the core of his fertility program, which allows him to maximize production and keep costs in check. Read More
Seed/BiotechMonsanto Named One Of The World’s Best Multinational …
October 23, 2014
Monsanto ranked No. 8 in the world’s largest annual study of workplace excellence that identifies the top 25 best multinational companies in terms of workplace culture. Read More