A Fantasy Island

“No man is an island, but some of us are pretty good peninsulas.”
— Solomon Short

Personally, I happen to love the above quote. Not only is it a very clever play on land mass definitions, I particularly like its underlying message — that no matter how hard an individual tries to stay isolated, he or she will eventually interact or be touched by someone in the great wide world.

Besides people, industries are not islands, either, though it may seem so at times. Take our own business, agriculture, for example. When you look at the downtrodden and negative news coming out of the general economy — housing foreclosures, massive layoffs, and skyrocketing gasoline prices, to name a few — agriculture seems like a pretty solid island. Many grower-customers are flush with cash from last year’s high commodity prices, equipment manufacturers are running their factories non-stop to keep with demand, and the ethanol wave keeps expanding. For the average ag retailer, this has translated into record revenues, as witnessed by last year’s CropLife 100 report, with total sales among this group approaching the $15 billion mark.

To appreciate how deeply this “positive island” mentality is running, consider this comment from one retailer I recently visited. When I asked this 11-year industry veteran about market conditions in his area, he beamed back with this response: “It couldn’t be better,” he said, a gleam in his eye. “Many of our customers talk about how much of a golden age agriculture was back in the 1970s. But from what I’ve seen, we are living in the definitive golden age of ag right now.”

This is a fine view of the state of ag, except for the fact that our industry is not an island of total prosperity. There are negatives out there — high fuel and transport prices, tight fertilizer supplies, and perhaps most devastating of all, the recent floods that all but wiped out 10% of the nation’s corn crop and caused more than $1 billion in crop losses overall. True, having more money makes these negatives easier to swallow, but they still hurt.

Veterans of this business will point out that these events are nothing new. Fuel and fertilizer issues are ever-present in this industry, and crop losses inevitably happen somewhere in this country year in and year out. I agree.

However, going back to our analogy, looking like an island of plenty in an ocean of despair can be dangerous. Several retailers I spoke with say that the incidents of trespassing and thefts at their outlets are on the rise. In particular, those facilities that store fuel have been frequent targets. In other cases, retailers are being forced to park all their vehicles indoors or empty their fuel tanks each night because of the threat from gas thieves.

Even worse than the petty thefts, ag is under attack from other sectors of the economy for appearing to be an island of wealth. Trade and special interest groups are trying to undermine money-making parts of our business such as ethanol. Despite this, many ag associations continue to act as islands, pushing member needs while attacking other groups within the ag community.

In this kind of environment, it’s important that the various groups within ag come together to protect all our interests. Going it alone with an “island mentality” will clearly not work.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facility
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions With Yara International
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
Seed/BiotechUSDA Approves Enlist Following Rigorous Review
September 18, 2014
Dow AgroSciences now awaits EPA registration of Enlist Duo herbicide, the companion herbicide to the Enlist traits, which is expected in the near future. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires Kansas-Based Cedar Ridge Supply
September 16, 2014
Cedar Ridge Supply will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More

Trending Articles

Equipment2014 Product Of The Year Voting
September 19, 2014
Many new products were introduced to the ag retail marketplace this year. From this group, CropLife IRON and its consulting partners have selected five finalists for the Product of the Year award. 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
CropLife 100CHS To Build $3 Billion Fertilizer Plant In North Dakota
September 5, 2014
The fertilizer plant in Spiritwood will be the single largest investment in CHS history, as well as the single largest private investment project ever undertaken in North Dakota. Read More
EquipmentNew Holland Acquires Miller-St. Nazianz
September 3, 2014
The assets of Miller acquired as part of the transaction will become part of New Holland Agriculture, a CNH Industrial brand, building on a successful four-year partnership between the two companies. Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires East Kansas Chemical
September 2, 2014
Ranked 82nd on the CropLife 100, East Kansas Chemical will operate as part of Pinnacle's Performance Agriculture brand. Read More
MAGIE 2014 ShowStopper
EquipmentJohn Deere Again Wins MAGIE ShowStopper Award
August 25, 2014
For the second consecutive year, John Deere was honored at the Midwest AG Industries Exposition (MAGIE) for its new R4045 sprayer. Read More

Latest News

FertilizerFertilizer Outlook And Technology Conference Set For No…
September 30, 2014
Conference participants can expect to gain perspective on the outlook for agriculture and major fertilizer materials and inputs from industry experts. Read More
MicronutrientsVerdesian Acquires Micronutrient Supplier
September 30, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has acquired QC Corp., a producer and supplier of granular and dry micronutrients and ferrous sulfate products. Read More
Eric SfiligojHearing From Young Ag Voices
September 30, 2014
Potential future leaders in ag retail had the chance to shine at the recent Mid America CropLife Association meeting. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
September 30, 2014
Register for one of our upcoming Webinars or access our archive of past Webinars to view recordings of presentations that may be of interest to you. Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta Appoints New Chief Operating Officer
September 29, 2014
Jon Parr will succeed retiring COO John Atkin at the end of the year. Read More
CropLife 100South Dakota Wheat Growers To Add Grain-Agronomy Facili…
September 26, 2014
Planned to be constructed in Kennebec, the facility will be located along the soon-to-be rehabilitated line of heavy-rail service from Chamberlain to Presho. Read More
CropLife 100GROWMARK Announces Vice President Appointments
September 25, 2014
Two individuals have been appointed Vice President positions on the GROWMARK executive team. Read More
FertilizerFertilizer Industry Organizations Join Global Alliance …
September 25, 2014
The Fertilizer Institute, the International Plant Nutrition Institute and the International Fertilizer Industry Association are encouraging the industry to promote the proper use of fertilizer products to minimize their environmental impact. Read More
Precision AgARA Organized Precision Forum Hits Capitol Hill
September 24, 2014
The Coalition for the Advancement of Precision Agriculture (CAPA) hosted its inaugural Precision Ag Forum, Sept. 18, in Washington, D.C. Read More
FertilizerFactors To Consider When Placing Fertilizer With Seed
September 24, 2014
The type of crop, fertilizer source, row spacing and soil environment all affect how much fertilizer can be safely applied with seed. Read More
FertilizerSidedressing Manure Into Corn Has Promising Results
September 24, 2014
Applying manure to growing crops can boost yields, reduce nutrient losses and give livestock producers another window of time to apply manure to farm fields. Read More
FertilizerWhen To Sample Manure For Analysis
September 24, 2014
Because the goal is to collect a sample that represents the manure actually being applied, the best time to sample is during loading or field application. Here's why. Read More
Syngenta
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Faces Second Lawsuit Over Agrisure Viptera Cor…
September 23, 2014
A second company has sued Syngenta AG over sales of genetically modified corn seed not approved by China. Read More
StewardshipCover Crops Field Guide For Farmers Expanded
September 23, 2014
Farmers interested in planting cover crops to improve soil health now have an updated and expanded resource in the second edition of the Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide. Read More
HerbicidesArysta LifeScience Launches Contest For Wheat Growers
September 23, 2014
The Flush after Flush Photo Finish contest encourages farmers across the U.S. to participate through Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #FlushAfterFlush. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Confirms Merger Of Equals Discussions Wit…
September 23, 2014
CF Industries Holdings, Inc. has confirmed that it is in preliminary discussions with Yara International regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
StewardshipProgram To Examine Ag-Related Practices, Policies To Pr…
September 22, 2014
A panel discussion on October 14 will include a significant discussion on key issues and solutions related to all aspects of harmful algal blooms. Read More
Eric SfiligojIt’s Product Of The Year Voting Season
September 22, 2014
Readers of CropLife IRON will choose 2014’s best new product over the next month. Read More