PACE 2009 Annual Report

Growers

The great fertilizer price crash of 2008, which left fully stocked retailers holding thousands of tons of over-market-price fertilizer that growers did not want to buy, has created some relational scars between retailers and growers, and retailers and suppliers. While retailers say their relationships with grower-customers have been evolving into being more about business than relationships anyway, this event has accelerated the trend. Handshake deals are increasingly being replaced by written contracts that must be adhered to by both sides.

Also, as growers become more sophisticated, and younger owners take over for the aging farm population, ag retailers will increasingly need to segment their customers by the level and type of service they demand. Size is one way consideration, but not all large growers are sophisticated. Younger growers have shown generally less interest in relationships, and are less tied to proximity as a reason to buy from a particular retailer. They also are steeped in agronomic training vs. their forebears.

Fertilizer

Although fertilizer prices generally have returned to their historic norms, many grower-customers have hesitated to apply more macronutrients to their fields. If crop and fertilizer price instability returns, some growers may be tempted to “mine” soils again, against the recommendations of agronomists. According to multiple sources, soil tests in many areas are making a strong case against mining in 2010.

In addition for crop nutrients, with the change in administration, there has been a renewed interest in regulation related to agriculture from several standpoints: cap-and-trade, fertilizer run-off control, spray drift, hazmat transportation, storage, ew-evaluations, etc. Federal and state associations are working overtime to educate legislators and get agriculture’s point of view heard.

Luckily, natural gas prices have dropped from their high in February 2009. This is because shale recovery methods have added significantly to domestic natural gas stocks (providing a 300-year supply, according to some sources). This should have a long-term impact on nitrogen pricing and availability for U.S. retailers.

Crop Protection

Retailers saw a significant decline in fungicide applications in many areas of the country as grower-customers cut back on preventive applications. It remains to be seen if this market will recover during an uncertain 2010.

Branded crop protection products have made a bit of a comeback compared with their generic counterparts during the past couple of years. Observers report that with the exception of generic brands of glyphosate, grower-customers tend to prefer branded crop protection products to their post-patent counterparts.

Spray drift remains a big area of concern for the marketplace. According to industry insiders, activists have kept up the pressure on EPA to adhere to the 6th Circuit Appeals court rulings on buffer zones and product use. The industry is hopeful it can get the Supreme Court to review/overturn this measure, but this could take some time to accomplish.

Seed/Biotech

Recent investments in “feet on the ground” by mega-biotech companies revealed that they are not relying on dealers to protect and sell the value of traited seed. They are happy to use the retailer for inventory storage, fulfillment, and training, but seed manufacturers are not entrusting their futures to retailers. In some instances, the seed company employee works out of the dealership, and the dealer provides product logistics and customer service. Some retailers have spent millions training their seed businesses but are not being afforded the opportunity to sell at margins necessary to keep it as a sustainable part of the retail model. Biotech company investment could signal a shift toward a “pharmaceuticals” model of selling that is more one-on-one with company representatives and more consultative as the technologies get more complex.

Some industry insiders say that demand for conventional seed in their markets has continued to grow, in part as a response to weed resistance concerns, but also in response to food processors looking for non-biotech sources.

Technology

Automatic steering systems have become popular at all levels of the ag retail community, from large multi-nationals to small independents. This popularity should continue as the technology improves accuracy and unit costs come down even further.

The use of remote diagnostics and unit support will become more widespread as wireless technology improves. This will allow retailers to capture and store application data much faster and more efficiently than is currently possible in many parts of the country.

Biofuels

Retailers report that demand and excitement regarding biofuels has dropped off significantly with the drop in oil prices that has made ethanol production less profitable. Still, because it seems that subsidies are not likely going away, and next generation technology is at least five years off, the belief is that the corn ethanol marketplace has at least a medium-term future. In the interim, corn ethanol will be at the mercy of non-market based factors such as mandated blend levels and minimum mandated use levels, which can’t be predicted or controlled.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories

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
FertilizerJ. R. Simplot To Build New Ammonia Plant In Rock Springs, WY
October 7, 2014
The new plant will supply both the Rock Springs, WY, and Pocatello, ID, phosphate fertilizer production locations while having the capacity to meet the company’s next phase of anticipated phosphate expansion plans at Rock Springs. Read More
CropLife 100Hintzsche Fertilizer To Sell Business To Helena
October 2, 2014
Hintzsche Fertilizer of Maple Park, IL, has agreed to sell its business to Helena Chemical Co., Collierville, TN, according to a report on ElburnHerald.com. Read More

Trending Articles

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
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

Latest News

ManagementGreenfield Scholars Program Aims To Sustain Agronomy Wo…
October 21, 2014
The program encourages talented students to study agronomy, crop and soil sciences while cultivating networks to develop the necessary workforce to sustain the profession. Read More
Paul SchrimpfPrecision Ag: Taking It To The Hill
October 21, 2014
A new coalition took the good news message of precision agriculture to Washington, DC, last month. Read More
ManagementUSDA Awards $18 Million In Small Business Research Gran…
October 21, 2014
The grants will provide high quality, advanced research and development that will lead to technological innovations and solutions for American agriculture. Read More
FertilizerCF Industries Terminates Merger Discussions With Yara I…
October 21, 2014
CF Industries Holdings and Yara International have terminated their discussions regarding a potential merger of equals transaction. Read More
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Ranked A Top 10 Biotech Employer For Third tim…
October 20, 2014
Syngenta ranked in the top 10 among the world’s top biotech employers, according to an annual survey conducted by Science magazine. Read More
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Break Ground For New Facility At Kennebec
October 20, 2014
Wheat Growers has broke ground for a state-of-the-art shuttle loader grain handling, fertilizer and agronomy facility in Kennebec, SD. Read More
FertilizerVerdesian Life Sciences Signs Agreement With Los Alamos…
October 20, 2014
Verdesian Life Sciences has signed a licensing agreement with Los Alamos National Laboratory to develop and market LANL’s latest nitrogen enhancement technology for plants. Read More
MicronutrientsStoller Group Announces Groundbreaking At New Office Bu…
October 20, 2014
Jerry Stoller, founder and president of Stoller Group, announced the groundbreaking at the site of the company’s future headquarters in Read More
Crop InputsBioSafe Systems Opens New Production Facility In Nevada
October 20, 2014
BioSafe Systems has completed construction of a state-of-art production facility in Sparks, NV, for its line of activated peroxygen products. Read More
Crop InputsPlatform Specialty Products To Acquire Arysta LifeScien…
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/BiotechEPA Approves Dow’s Enlist Duo Herbicide
October 15, 2014
The Enlist Weed Control System, breakthrough technology to fight resistant and tough weeds, has received the long-awaited green light from federal regulatory authorities. Read More
MicronutrientsGypsum On Farms Could Help Keep Water Clean, Not Green
October 14, 2014
Gypsum, which has roots in the past as a farm soil treatment, also may have a bright future, and not just as a booster of crops but also as a protector of water. Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Crop InputsVerdesian Grows Sales Staff
October 14, 2014
The new account managers will drive sales growth and support relationships with key customers in the plant nutrition and seed treatment and inoculants product categories. Read More
WebinarsUpcoming Webinars
October 14, 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
CropLife 100The Andersons Purchases Six Grain Elevators, Four Agron…
October 14, 2014
The Andersons has acquired Auburn Bean and Grain of Auburn, MI, which will increase the storage capacity of its Grain Group by about 13%. 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
Eric SfiligojEntering Agriculture’s New Phase
October 13, 2014
The market’s giddy ride the past few years might be coming to an end in 2015, warns one industry insider. Read More
Eric SfiligojWar And Green Peace
October 11, 2014
A one-time member of Green Peace recently explained why he left the organization after 15 years. Read More