In Farm Credit East’s annual survey of Northeast farm, fishing and forestry producers, participants were asked to provide anindication of their expectations and concerns for 2017. A cross section of more than 150 producers provided their insights in this year’s survey.
One question asked participants to allocate 100 points to the various challenges they face in the coming year. While responses were spread across the board, the results show the largest concerns are with the volatility of prices and/or shrinking margins, labor availability and regulatory compliance. Many of these same concerns have been expressed in previous years’ surveys. The full results are shown below.
Volatility of prices and/or shrinking margins
The largest concern, coming in at 29 percent, was the volatility of prices and/or shrinking margins. Commodity prices for dairy and cash field crops have fallen significantly from past highs, and with nearly half of survey responses coming from dairy or cash grain producers, it’s not surprising that this came in as the top concern.
Many farms report that finding, hiring and retaining good employees is a significant challenge, so it is not surpising that availability of qualified labor came in as the second largest concern. This is certainly true for production labor, where finding reliable and legal workers has been a challenge for a long time, but this is also becoming increasingly true for more skilled management positions.
Regulatory, environmental and labor compliance came in as the third greatest concern. It seems that each year brings new regulations and new compliance challenges. Many producers feel these rules impede their ability to move their businesses forward at the speed and direction they prefer.
To view the full Pulse of Agriculture survey report, click here.