ALLEN COUNTY —According to the Soybean Council, the food and agriculture industry contributes more than $100 billion to the state’s economy, and accounts for 14% of the jobs in Ohio. One out of every seven workers in Ohio is employed in agriculture.
Agriculture plays a vital role in feeding the world’s growing population. It’s also a complex and multifaceted sector that is influenced by a range of economic, environmental, and social factors. The Ag Outlook and Agronomy Day presented by the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Studies and locally by the OSU Extension Office shared many of the latest findings with farmers so they can make well-advised decisions about their crops this year.
Allen County extension educator Nic Baumer said, “We have a lot of great speakers all from OSU extension talking about everything from the grain markets outlook and what’s going on there. They’re addressing our fertilizer prices and shortages and talking about fertilizer and pesticide applications and how we can be smarter about those. Later they will talk about disease management.”
Most people envision farmers working in their fields, but Barry Ward turned his session into an economics 101 class. Inflation can affect crop production in a number of ways. For the producer, it can increase the costs of inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and labor, which can reduce farmers’ profit margins and make it more difficult for them to invest in new technology or expand their operations.
For the consumer, inflation can lead to higher food prices, which can reduce consumer demand for agricultural products and hurt farmers’ production and sales. This can also increase the cost of living for farmers and rural communities, further reducing their purchasing power.
Ward said, “Some of the input costs are coming down this year while some are still going to be pretty high, so it’s kind of a mixed bag. But the thing that we definitely see is their equity, their net worth has been growing the last three to four years. So it’s evident in land sales. You’ve seen land sales across Ohio that have been very strong in that market.
“So that’s an indicator that the overall health of the sector is pretty strong. It’s going to be challenging for each grower, each independent producer. They’re going to be shopping for lowest costs as they always do. Fuel and fertilizer are actually a little bit lower than last year. Machinery costs, parts, those are challenging for each grower not only to source but also to pay for because there were big price moves over the last couple of years.”
The agribusiness industry is constantly changing, and the challenges and opportunities facing farmers are ever evolving.
Reach Dean Brown at 567-242-0409