Teddy Roosevelt once said, “When you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot, and hold on.” I know from talking with retailers during the past few weeks that some of you are practicing your knot-tying about now, as you anticipate what farmers’ buying habits are going to be this summer.
Certainly, it was easier to predict farmers’ in-season purchases a few years ago when commodity prices were hitting record highs. Even so, the current low prices won’t dictate every decision. Farmers are still looking for the best technology, products and agronomic services they can get to make the crops they’re planting now yield big come fall.
Straight From The Farmer. I got a small glimpse of farmers’ planned purchases in the results from our annual Farm Journal Media seed and planting survey conducted in March. The 535 corn and soybean growers who responded provided some insights into how they will and won’t invest this season.
Where they won’t invest is fairly predictable. In the table with this story, you can see that 67.2% of the respondents plan to reduce equipment purchases.
Two encouraging findings, in my opinion, are that only 16.1% of farmers say they will purchase fewer pesticides, fungicides and insecticides this season, while 15.9% say they will reduce their use of agronomists and consultants.
Given the tough farm economy I had braced myself, expecting those percentages to be higher. Instead, the results say to me that nearly 85% of farmers see value in the products and services you provide, and are likely to use both this season.
Some of the respondents’ planned cutbacks could end up being opportunities in disguise. It might discourage you that 28.7% of the farmers plan to use less traited seed in order to reduce their seed costs. The silver lining is that those farmers could have a greater need for your pest-scouting services and control measures. With the mild winter we had, that’s likely to be the case.
Please know that in my desire to share a positive outlook in this editorial, I am in no way overlooking the fact that our industry is experiencing pain as a result of low commodity prices. I just don’t see any upside to focusing on that negative. Most of you probably don’t, either.
There’s something else you might think about as you work with farmers this summer, and it’s a great business-builder. It’s what I call the care factor, and it can mean more to your bottom line than any product or service you sell. I leave you with another quote from Mr. Roosevelt who summed it up well. He said, “People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.”