SDSU Extension asks for feedback to address the farm economic situation

Alvaro Garcia SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Director & Professor
Farm Forum

Speaking in March 2018 to Newsmax Finance, Anthony Busch, a 45-year-old corn, soybeans and wheat farmer stated: “I look for a period of pretty tough times. I need to borrow money in the spring to cover the costs I pay off in the fall, so when you’re buying your seeds, your fertilizer, you have to take on your debt all at once. If you want to stick in this business, you have to be an eternal optimist. We may not have cheap interest rates. But we’ll still have to eat.”

Mr. Busch’s statements pretty much summarized what’s has been going on in the U.S. farm sector for several years.

It is not just about crop production at a relatively fair price anymore, it is also about being able to sustain the farm family budget. It is about maintaining the necessary optimism to remain in business, and still be confident that the situation will turn around.

According to Bloomberg News U.S. farm income will hit a 12-year low in 2018.

In its first 2018 broadcast, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) predicted farmer profits will drop 6.7 percent this year to $59.5 billion.

That’s the lowest since 2006, down 52 percent from a record high of $123.8 billion in 2013.

To serve during tough times, SDSU Extension asks producers for feedback

Starting a few years ago, the SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources team discussed how to incorporate into its outreach research-based information that pertains to the South Dakota farm economy.

Today, we face a situation that has worsened significantly since our early efforts.

Farms are undergoing significant economic woes that have resulted in not only financial difficulties but emotional strain. To avoid assuming what South Dakota’s agriculture producers’ need and maximize our outreach efforts, our team put together a highly diversified Farm Economy Task Force.

This task force discussed the best approach to maximize impact – similar to what we did to address the 2017 drought effort.

In addition to myself, the task force includes: Heather Gessner, SDSU Extension livestock business management field specialist; Ruth Beck, SDSU Extension agronomy field specialist; Andrea Bjornestad, assistant professor and SDSU Extension mental health specialist; Jack Davis, SDSU Extension crops business management field specialist; Tracey Erickson, SDSU Extension dairy field specialist; Lindsey Gerard, SDSU Extension iGrow technology coordinator; Adele Harty, SDSU Extension cow/calf field specialist; Michelle May, SDSU Extension 4-H Youth Program advisor – Butte/Lawrence Counties; Lorna Saboe-Wounded Head, SDSU Extension family resource management field specialist.

To understand how we can best serve South Dakota producers we are conducting a random survey of 10 percent South Dakota agriculture producers.

The poll will go out this April together with self-addressed stamped envelopes to 10 percent of our farms or 3,150 out the roughly 31,150 total. Distribution will be at random in 350 farms in each of the nine quadrants that SDSU and USDA use to describe other aspects of our state: Northwest, North central, North East, West Central, Central, East Central, South West, South Central, and South East.

The survey is confidential and includes several topics including: demographics, production, finances, and sources of emotional strain.

Once we receive completed surveys, our team will also make the survey to all producers through social media.

The data of these surveys will be utilized to guide the development and distribution of SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources programming for 2018 and into the future.

If you have questions, please contact me at