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

Latest News
RoGator RG1300B AGCO
EquipmentAGCO Opens Nominations for 12th Annual Operator of the …
August 18, 2017
AGCO Corp. has announced the opening of nominations for AGCO Application Equipment’s 12th Annual Operator of the Year. The award Read More
ManagementTravels, Mergers, and CropLife 100 Updates
August 18, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss recent trips they’ve taken, the latest news on market consolidation, and the 2017 Read More
Corn Seed
Seed/BiotechSeed Innovations Benefit All of the Seed Industry
August 17, 2017
Innovations from throughout the seed industry help address many of the economic, environmental and health issues we face as a Read More
SpreadersGVM to Introduce New Prowler at MAGIE
August 17, 2017
The newest Prowler in GVM’s line-up will be introduced next week at the Midwest Ag Industries Expo (MAGIE), August 23 Read More
AcreEdge bag
Seed/BiotechLandus Cooperative’s AcreEdge Seed Brand Gears Up for 2…
August 17, 2017
Growers in more than 26 Iowa and Minnesota counties are seeing field signs with a new brand name at end Read More
Engenia soybeans
ManagementCorn and Soybean Yield Forecasts Larger than Expected
August 17, 2017
The USDA’s August Crop Production report contained larger-than-expected forecasts for the 2017 U.S. corn and soybean crops. At 169.5 bushels Read More
ManagementU.S. Ag Secretary Introduces SCORE
August 17, 2017
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue signed a new agreement to support new and beginning farmers. On August 5, Perdue joined Read More
CHS-FFA-Minnesota
CropLife 100CHS and FFA: A Homerun Partnership
August 17, 2017
CHS hosted the Minnesota FFA for its annual FFA night at CHS Field. FFA students, educators and CHS leadership enjoyed Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
CropLife 100Gar Tootelian Foundation Donates Half Million Dollars t…
August 16, 2017
Students at Immanuel Elementary are looking forward to the first day of school for two reasons this year. One, they Read More
Water Drainage
StewardshipNew System Could Remove Two Water Pollutants from Ag Fi…
August 14, 2017
Algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico use up the majority of the oxygen in the water, leading to massive Read More
Eric SfiligojThe Top 10 Crop Protection Companies, Post-Mega Mergers
August 14, 2017
Everyone loves a good Top 10 list. In fact, some prominent celebrities such as David Letterman spent much of their Read More
ManagementThe DuPont-Granular Deal, Dicamba Update, and Upcoming …
August 11, 2017
Matthew Grassi joins Paul Schrimpf for the second week in a row to talk about DuPont’s acquisition of Granular, as Read More
Soybeans weeds
HerbicidesOngoing Evaluation Key to Controlling Weeds, Improving …
August 10, 2017
As the sun bears down on record U.S. soybean acres this August, farmers keep their eyes on their fields to Read More
Young Corn Plants
Seed/BiotechMycogen Seeds Offers Novel Product to Battle Pythium, O…
August 10, 2017
After a season plagued by seedling diseases caused by cool, wet soils at planting, farmers have a new option to Read More
Corn Field
FertilizerProtect Applied Manure Straight From the Manure Pit to …
August 10, 2017
Farmers who use liquid manure to fertilize corn crops can now mix Instinct nitrogen stabilizer in their pit for easy Read More
Iowa waterways
Stewardship2,600 Iowa Farmers Commit $8.7 Million to Water Quality…
August 9, 2017
Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey announced Tuesday that a record number of Iowa farmers signed up to install nutrient Read More
Natives-First-Purple_Prairie_Clover
Seed/BiotechLa Crosse Seed Continues Focus on Soil and Water Conser…
August 9, 2017
La Crosse Seed is doing its part to lead communication to ag retailers across the country on the importance of Read More
HerbicidesAg Secretary Perdue Comments on Dicamba Issue
August 9, 2017
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue indicated to reporters this week that he would like to see the industry work out a Read More