A Necessary Ride

One of my favorite moments in the 1989 movie “Parenthood” occurs when the family grandmother uses a teenage memory as a metaphor for life. “You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a rollercoaster,” says the grandmother. “Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together. Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the rollercoaster. You get more out of it.”

Now, contrast this comment to the one I heard at the recent Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association (IFCA) meeting, which took place last week in Peoria, IL. When I asked an attendee how ag retailers felt about 2009, this was his reply: “Let’s face it – retailers like the industry to be steady and predictable like a kiddie ride and not like a rollercoaster with big ups and downs.”

For those of you that know me, you might think I’m more inclined to agree with the IFCA attendee vs. Grandma on how the marketplace should play out each year. And you would be right. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that a good old-fashioned rollercoaster ride is needed once in a while to help the industry grow and adapt to the inevitable changes that regularly spring up from one year to the next.

For instance, consider the merry-go-round years of 2006 and 2007. Market growth was steady and climbed at a nice, even pace. As a result, the majority of ag retailers didn’t have to work very hard to keep up, sell, and supply their grower-customers with crop inputs and services. Virtually no one changed their business practices under these conditions.

Then came the rollercoaster rides of 2008 and 2009. Big swings in crop inputs prices caused grower-customers to cut back or completely halt their orders. Application worked also stopped. This forced all retailers to change their business models and re-evaluate how their stocked products.

Now, moving into 2010, many retailers have made the necessary changes to their operations to ensure their survival and continued economic health. This includes adopting formal contracts for fertilizer purchases, re-evaluating the role of seed in their businesses, and adding precision agriculture services as cost-saving options for their growers to try.

At the IFCA meeting, the vast majority of attendees said they were expecting a positive growth year in 2010. Most were hoping that the ride would be more merry-go-round-like than rollercoaster-ish. Yet, without the ups and downs of the past two years, would they be in a position to be looking at the marketplace this way? That’s something to think about . . .

Leave a Reply

Latest News
UncategorizedPrecision Ag, Iowa Water, and GM Corn Updates
March 24, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj look at the state of precision agriculture, the dismissal of the Des Moines Water Read More
Pam Marrone
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Enters Biostimulants Market Wit…
March 23, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. is expanding beyond biopesticides and crop protection and into the biostimulant market by commercially launching Haven Read More
Nutrients for Life Foundation Teacher
FertilizerNutrients For Life Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Teach…
March 23, 2017
Those in agriculture know fertilizer is a vital ingredient to grow strong, productive crops. In fact, fertilizer is responsible for Read More
ManagementThink You Know Water? Take WinField United’s R…
March 22, 2017
Water is among our most precious resources, and arguably the hardest working, with just one percent available for human use, Read More
Corn Field
LegislationTFI Hopes Court Dismissal Is ‘Final Chapter’…
March 20, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) released the following statement from President, Chris Jahn on the March 17, 2017, federal court dismissal Read More
Wheat Growers
Industry NewsWheat Growers CEO Dale Locken To Retire
March 20, 2017
CEO Dale Locken has announced that he plans to retire from Wheat Growers. Locken has served almost 15 years as Read More
Bayer Monsanto
Eric SfiligojBayer-Monsanto: Life, LibertyLink, And The Pursuit Of R…
March 20, 2017
As the calendar officially turns to spring, life is in full renewal mode. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and Read More
Corn Field
Crop InputsUltra Yield Micronutrients Acquires Kronos Micronutrien…
March 16, 2017
Ultra Yield Micronutrients, Inc. ”Ultra”, an affiliate of Cameron Chemicals, Inc., is pleased to announce that it has acquired the Read More
ManagementSnowstorms, Asset Sales, and Soybeans Prices
March 16, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss the weather, precision ag, crop protection company mergers, and commodity prices in this Read More
Soybean Field
Seed/BiotechBayer Invests $8.1 million In Soybean Advancement In Th…
March 16, 2017
Growers in Illinois and across the Midwest now have the added benefit of a state-of-the-art soybean research facility, increasing accessibility Read More
CHS
CropLife 100CHS Acquires Western Co-op Transport Association
March 16, 2017
CHS Inc., North America’s leading farmer-owned cooperative and a global energy, grains and foods company, has purchased Western Co-op Transport Read More
Young corn plants in soil
HerbicidesBest Management Practices To Control PPO-Resistant Weed…
March 14, 2017
Weeds resistant to the class of herbicides called protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PPO) inhibitors are spreading at a faster rate than weed Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Eric SfiligojFungicide Resistance On The Horizon
March 13, 2017
For many years now, the agricultural market has struggled to keep ahead of an ever-growing number of herbicide-resistant weeds. According Read More
Management2017 Commodity Classic Review
March 10, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss what happened at the recent Commodity Classic in San Antonio. Read More
Farmer using AgriSync
ManagementMajor AgriSync Update Aims To Extend Ag Experts’ Power …
March 10, 2017
AgriSync announced a major update to its leading collaboration and service management tool for professional ag advisors and their farmer Read More
Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App
EquipmentNew Agrible Pocket Spray Smart App Alleviates Spraying …
March 10, 2017
There’s a new app to help farmers decide when to spray their fields. Pocket Spray Smart is a free iOS Read More
BPIA logo
Crop InputsBiological Products Trade Association Changes Name, Exp…
March 9, 2017
The Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA), formerly the BioPesticide Industry Alliance, is the new name of the rapidly growing U.S.-based Read More
BBI MagnaSpread Salford BBI
Equipment14 Fertilizer Spreaders For 2017
March 9, 2017
Application equipment manufacturers stressed flexibility and accuracy with this year’s crop of fertilizer spreaders. From AGCO’s TerraGator TG9300B and Case IH’s 810 Read More