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Optimism Drops As Farmers Battle Third Year of Low Commodity Prices

December 5, 2016

A survey of Illinois Farm Bureau members show 30 percent of respondents feel less optimistic than they did in 2016 and only 19 percent are more optimistic.

Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert, Junior says many farmers are going to have to make tough decisions this year and are rightly concerned about how to keep their businesses afloat as they fight the third straight year of commodity prices near record lows.

As a result of the concerns 81 percent of the 277 respondents plan to reduce inputs in 2017.

  • 93 percent plan to delay equipment purchases
  • 44 percent will buy less expensive seed
  • 40 percent will negotiate lower cash rent
  • Nearly 38 percent will delay or cut back on chemical and fertilizer purchases
  • Nearly 24 percent will implement cost-saving technology including GPS or field mapping
  • 9 percent will choose a lower level of crop insurance or give up a portion of rented ground

The respondents also ranked several priority issues in terms of importance in the coming year. The top concern was fighting intrusive and costly federal regulations, followed by keeping federal crop insurance viable; cutting the small business tax rate and eliminating the death tax; modernizing our nation’s transportation infrastructure; and preserving the Renewable Fuel Standard.

Nearly 53 percent have used cover crops in the past, with 67 percent having planted cover crops for five years or less. Of those who have not used cover crops, 75 percent said they would be willing to do so in the future.

Nearly 84 percent of members said they have installed buffer strips along streams or ditches, and 22 percent have installed pollinator habitats. Just more than half of farmers said they do not receive cost share of incentives to implement conservation practices.

Guebert says the results shows farmers’ efforts to protect land and water are growing and making a difference. The results were released at the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting underway in Chicago.

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