AG Forecast Seminar predicts a slow year for farmers

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Farmer Phil Sanders, left, and Chance Fowler, 20, right, work on a John Deere tractor at Buffalo Creek Straw and Seed Farm, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Stephens, Ga.  With over 42,000 farmers working in the Georgia agriculture industry, farming contributes over $73 Billion to Georgia’s economy each year.  Forecasters say profits are expected be down as well as exports in 2016 nationwide due to a fragile world economy.  Photo by Branden Camp

 

By Branden Camp

Macon, Ga. – Farmers and agriculture professionals gathered at the Farm Bureau in Macon to learn about how the agriculture industry is expected to do in 2016 at the Ag Forecast Seminar. Though crops are growing, the agriculture industry as a whole is not expected to follow.

“Both here in the U.S. and globally, production continues to outpace demand,” said Don Shurley, University of Georgia cooperative extension economist.

“Another thing we have going against us is the strong dollar,” said Kent Wolfe, director of the Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development at the University of Georgia.

The U.S. dollar is strong and is continuing to grow, but the world currencies are in decline.

“It’s like the best house on the worst street,” Wolfe said. The housing market is up, people are spending money, businesses are spending money, but agriculture exports can expect to be low in a fragile world economy.

Declining exports are another sign of a globally connected market and it will show its power this coming year.

According to Dr. Wolfe, Japan’s currency is down 12 percent, Korea is down 14 percent and Brazil, who is the United State’s biggest soybean competitor, is down 40 percent.

Farmer Melanie Sanders, who farms soybeans, wheat, various other crops as well as poultry at Buffalo Creek Straw and Seed Farm, in Stephens, Georgia, says there are many hurdles to farming.

“It’s a great big gamble,” Sanders said. ”I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

The world economy is not the only hurdle farmers have to jump. Weather has been a recent problem for Sanders and surrounding farmers.

The plant her farm sales soybeans to has stopped taking product until they catch up on weeding out the moldy and damaged seeds from all the recent rain.

Sanders wears many hats in order to meet the demands of a farmer’s life. Sanders works part-time at a small bank and part-time on the farm. She is also the chairman of the Georgia Farm Bureau Women’s Committee and serves on the Board of Education in Oglethorpe County.

Many young farmers like 20-year-old farmer Chance Fowler, who works on Sanders farm, are reluctant to be career farmers. He says there are too many risks involved in running a farm.

Sanders daughter Maisie Sanders, 23, grew up living a farmer’s life and plans to buy land to start a poultry business near the family farm.

One small light at the end of the tunnel is Australia’s slaughter rates are down which creates opportunity for the U.S. to export more beef to Japan.

The agriculture industry contributes over $73 billion each year to Georgia’s economy. There are over 42,000 working farmers and 100,000 people that benefit from Georgia’s agriculture business.

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