A cross section of 140 Northeast producers responded to a February Farm Credit East survey on 2013 business results and perspectives for 2014. The bottom line was that more than 76% continue to be optimistic or cautiously optimistic for their farm enterprises' future.
The survey sampled farm, fishing and forestry producers. "I'm excited about the optimism," says Bill Lipinski, Farm Credit East CEO. "Agriculture is an economic engine in the Northeast. With continuing support from agribusiness and farm-friendly public policies, it will continue to grow and create more jobs and economic activity."
• Most producers didn't experience much change in gross farm income last year, compared to 2012.
•More than 64% expect to increase production in 2014 with 29% expecting to increase production by more than 10%.
• After a second consecutive growth year, 39% expect to restructure their operations in 2014.
•Some 32% expect to start the process of transferring business to the next generation.
•Top line income continues to grow modestly for a majority of producers, with 28% indicating a 1 to 10% increase; 23% indicating a 10 to 20% increase; and 11% indicating more than 20% increase.
•Expenses stayed about the same in 2013. But 76% continue to see significant cost inflation in their business.
•Real estate markets stayed about the same in 2013 as compared to 2012, with some producers indicating a 1 to 10% increase in sale prices.
•The top three business challenges anticipated in 2014 are availability of labor, financial volatility in income statements and changing/shrinking margins.
•Consumer buying habits are anticipated to stay about the same as they have been in previous years, with a cautious outlook on spending in 2014.
•Close to 50% expect interest rates to increase as much as two percentage points in the coming year.
"Farm owners are concerned with the availability of a stable labor supply and that the farm labor issue needs to be addressed," notes Lipinski. Some 63% of respondents were from New York State, 8% from New Jersey and 28% from New England.To view the full report of Farm Credit East's Pulse of Agriculture survey results, click here.