January 9, 2017
Commodity prices and input costs topped the list of concerns for Missouri farmers and ranchers heading into 2017. However, according to a survey by Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Department of Agriculture, farmers remain optimistic about the future of their industry.
Nearly 300 farmers and ranchers responded to the FarMometer Survey during the Missouri Farm Bureau annual meeting and the Governor's Conference on Agriculture in December. Five key questions composed the survey. The Missouri Farm Bureau plans to make this an annual survey to gauge changes in opinions by farmers and ranchers across the state.
“Even with low grain and livestock prices and the other challenges facing agriculture today, it is not surprising that farmers and ranchers still remain the eternal optimists,” said Richard Fordyce, former Missouri Department of Agriculture director, in a statement. "It truly is a great time to be involved in agriculture."
Blake Hurst, president of Missouri Farm Bureau, also commented on the survey results, “Missouri’s farmers and ranchers are telling us they support public policy efforts to strengthen agricultural markets and reduce unnecessary and costly government regulations. These are among the top priorities of Farm Bureau for 2017.”
One key question in the survey asked farmers to rank the challenges facing the future of their farming operation. The results were as follows:
1. Commodity/livestock prices
2. Input costs
3. Government regulations
4. Activist groups such as The Humane Society of the United States
5. Access to affordable health care
6. Securing adequate and affordable land
7. Uncertainty of federal farm programs
8. Succession planning
9. Access to capital
10. Consolidation of input suppliers
11. Corporate marketing and changing consumer preferences
Still, the survey found that the majority of farmers and ranchers responding (65%), had an optimistic view of their future in agriculture. Just 8% said they were pessimistic, and 27% had a neutral opinion.
The FarMometer Survey also looked at individuals' involvement in agricultural activities outside of their normal farming operations. Of those responding, 98% believed they should be active in farm or commodity organizations, and 95% felt forming relationships with elected officials was important. However, it was almost unanimous — 99.65% — that respondents felt communicating with consumers was vitally important.
One final question focused on the next generation of farmers and ranchers. It asked whether farmers or ranchers would recommend their children follow in their footsteps. The survey found that 91% said yes, 7% said no and 2% had no response.
About the Author(s)
Editor, Missouri Ruralist
Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.
After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.
There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.
“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”
Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.
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