When I got out of college and started to work in the agriculture industry, I wrote a quarterly seed newsletter called The Insider. (If you remember it, that dates you and me both.) At the time, there were about 300 seed companies, give or take a few, ranging from national, multi-crop organizations to small, mom-and-pop operations that sold a handful of corn hybrids to farmers in their local area. Today, there are only six major players in the industry, what I would describe as traditional seed companies that sell corn and soybeans. Each of these six companies owns a host of specific national and regional brands under their company umbrella, and the landscape for each is rapidly changing. By this time next year, with the mergers and reorganizations underway, some brands will be restructured within companies, retired or sold to competitors. If you find the myriad changes that are underway a tad unsettling, just know they probably are even more so for your farmer customers.
The one thing that hasn’t changed in the seed business for farmers is you. Research shows us their relationship with you is vitally important to how they evaluate products for the next year. In our 2017 seed research study conducted last March (535 respondents), 47% said they buy seed through a farmer-dealer and 42% buy from an ag retailer/co-op. Read the story on page 10 for more insights. So, as you rev up for the 2018 seed sales season, keep in mind the important role you truly play in the industry. Farmers are counting on you to help them select the best products for their business.
Closer To Home. Change is a constant in the ag industry, and that’s true for me as I transition to a new role within Farm Journal Media. Likewise, Margy Eckelkamp is moving from the role of Managing Editor to Editor of AgPro. I have appreciated the opportunity to work with you this past year, and I look forward to the continued excellent content Margy and the team will provide you, the AgPro audience.