During the past few years, I’ve often said, “It’s a good time to be in agriculture.”
Last week I saw for myself this isn’t necessarily true for everyone. Not everyone in the industry has been as blessed as some.
While doing some dealer visits in the lower half of Missouri, Managing Editor Chad Elmore and I stopped to see a John Deere dealer who told us things weren’t going too well for many of the corn growers in his neighborhood. Some, he said, aren’t expecting much beyond 10-15 bushels an acre and others just gave up and chopped their corn for silage. “I’ve seen some corn where there wasn’t much more than 10 or 15 kernels on an ear,” he told us.
As a result, his equipment sales are quite a bit lower than the dealership was expecting.
Now, I see where the Missouri governor is asking federal agriculture officials to declare 23 Missouri counties a disaster area to allow aid for farmers who have lost crops or property.
Of course, there’ll be no aid coming for equipment dealers who are taking it on the chin because of the lousy growing weather.
Then there’s the Texas drought. At the moment they’re estimating $5.2 billion in agricultural losses there. This includes $2.1 billion in livestock losses and $3.1 billion in lost crops. And some don’t think they’ve seen the worst of it yet.
"There can still be some losses there when we see what's harvested," says David Anderson, an extension service economist. "I think it's going to get bigger."
He says the previous record annual loss was $4.1 billion for the 2006 growing season.
So, the next time you hear someone criticizing all those farmers who are getting rich with the high commodity prices, remind them that those farmers don’t make a penny until they harvest their crops — or if they get a crop to harvest.
Then point them toward southern Missouri and Texas.