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Farm Credit East releases results of Northeast Producer Survey

Farm Credit East recently released a report indicating Northeast farm, fishing and forestry producers are starting to see some change in their operating environment, but continue to be optimistic about their farm businesses going into 2014. This report was compiled from a survey the financial cooperative recently conducted that asked Northeast producers to provide insight into their 2013 business results and perspectives on the year ahead. In the report, producers’ responses are compared to the results of last year’s survey.

“I am excited about the optimism among farmers,” said Bill Lipinski, Farm Credit East CEO. “Agriculture is an economic engine in the Northeast – with continuing support from agribusiness and farm-friendly public policies, it will continue to grow and create more jobs and economic activity.”

A cross section of 140 Northeast producers responded to this survey. Key results included:

  • Over ¾ of respondents continue to be optimistic or cautiously optimistic for the future of their farming enterprise.
  • In terms of gross farm income, most producers did not experience much change last year as compared to 2012. Top line income continues to grow modestly for a majority of producers, with 28% indicating a 1 to 10% increase, 23% indicating a 10 to 20% increase and 11% indicating more than 20% increase.
  • Producers indicated their expenses stayed about the same in 2013, but many (76%) continue to see significant cost inflation in their business.
  • Real estate markets stayed about the same in 2013 as compared to 2012, with some producers indicating a 1 to 10% increase in sale price.
  • The top three major business challenges Northeast producers anticipate in 2014 are availability of labor, financial volatility in income statements and changing/shrinking margins.
  • Survey respondents anticipate consumer buying habits to stay about the same as they have been in previous years, with a cautious outlook on spending in 2014.
  • Survey respondents indicated a big change in their outlook on interest rates in 2014. Nearly half of our participants expect interest rates to increase as much as two percentage points in the coming year, while the remaining majority of respondents expect interest rates to remain about the same for another year.

“In the Northeast we have thousands of farm businesses that are an integral part of our communities,” Lipinski continued. “This survey indicated that farm owners are concerned with the availability of a stable labor supply and that the farm labor issue needs to be addressed.”

In addition, survey respondents reported on their 2014 business plans and goals. Looking back at 2013, survey respondents reported on their business results and impact of weather on their farming operation.

This survey was conducted in February 2014. The survey was open to any farm, fishing and forestry producers operating within the seven Northeast states of New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The survey was made available on Farm Credit East’s website and social media sites. To view the full report of Farm Credit East’s Pulse of Agriculturesurvey results, click here.