A Good Year

Where has the time gone? Here we are in the final week of 2010. The past two years, I’ve relished this week because 2008 and 2009 were generally terrible for the ag retail market, with depressed sales, inventory write-downs and lost business dominating the news.

But I’m going to miss 2010 because it was a good year. True, the recovery from the down years of 2008 and 2009 could have been stronger, but it was good. Crop inputs sales increased in all segments according to our CropLife 100 survey, input prices remained relatively steady and crop values steadily rose throughout the year.

Likewise, the general mood of the industry was good. Talking with folks at the recent Agricultural Retailers Association meeting, everyone seemed pleased with how their businesses/companies performed in 2010. There were no outstanding performances, but no depressed ones, either. Overall, everyone said 2010 was “good.”

For my friends in the equipment business, times were also good. Most of the manufacturers I spoke with at the summer trade shows indicated their businesses did just fine in 2010, with sales up and orders for new units continuing to come in. Several talked about revenue bumps of 5% to 8% – not great, but good.

Right now, no one is certain that the market can sustain these good fortunes in 2011. In general, most industry insiders are cautiously optimistic, with a definite emphasis on the cautiously side.

So here’s to 2010. Although you weren’t a great year by any measure, you were a welcome change from the downtrodden times of 2008 and 2009. And in my book, that’s good enough to be remembered fondly as we move into another new year.

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