"As a member-driven organization, it's extremely important for us to
reach out to our members and find out what concerns them, both for
the upcoming year and years to come," said Illinois Farm Bureau
President Philip Nelson. "Keeping our finger on the pulse of our
organization, and the members that make it up, helps to ensure that
we're pursuing issues that are most important to our members and
will benefit them the most."
In all, 58 percent of respondents who answered the open-ended
question named regulations, governmental entities or the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency as the biggest threat to
profitability. This was the second consecutive year that regulations
were the most-often cited response to the open-ended question. In
addition, respondents indicated concerns with taxes, an answer given
by 16 percent; input costs, a response from 14 percent; high cash
rents and land prices, mentioned by 7 percent; and grain prices,
mentioned by 7 percent.
In response to an open-ended question about the 2012 drought and
what changes they will make to their farming operations in 2013 as a
result, 48 percent of respondents who answered the question said
they had no significant changes planned. Eleven percent said they
will make different planting decisions, including less corn-on-corn,
switching from corn to soybeans, planting more wheat in the fall or
devoting more acres to hay. Seven percent said they would irrigate
more land. Four percent said they would increase the use of minimal
tillage. Two percent said they would pray for rain. Respondents were
allowed to list multiple answers.
When asked about their corn planting intentions for next year, 66
percent who answered the question indicated their corn acreage would
remain the same. Eighteen percent said they plan to plant more corn;
16 percent said they would plant fewer corn acres.
Forty-nine percent of respondents self-identified as livestock
producers. Of those, 64 percent said they do not plan on expanding
herd size in the next five years. The most commonly cited reasons
were no room to expand, a reason given by 29 percent; retirement or
advancing age, a response by 26 percent; difficulty in finding
qualified workers, mentioned by 10 percent; and high input costs,
mentioned by 9 percent.
Sixty-six percent of corn growers indicated they plan to increase
their corn acreage over the next five years. Among those not
planning to expand, the most common reasons given were lack of
available land and farm size, a response by 28 percent, while 14
percent cited high cash rents and land purchase costs. The
open-ended question allowed respondents to list multiple factors.
Those surveyed were asked whether they purchased crop insurance
in 2012. Eighty-four percent indicated that they had. Eighty-seven
percent said they plan to purchase it for 2013. When asked if they
had filed a claim, 84 percent who answered the questions said they
did. A large number of claims are expected to be filed in regions
throughout the country as a result of the drought.
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The survey also gauged Farm Bureau members' opinions on two
tax-related questions. When asked whether they had used the Section
179 small business expensing option in the past 10 years, 71 percent
of those who answered said that they had.
Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code allows taxpayers to
expense, or deduct as a current expense rather than a capital
expense, up to $125,000 of the total cost of a new or used qualified
depreciable item they buy and place in service in the current year.
Each year, farmers make large capital purchases in the form of
equipment and are often able to use Section 179 in their operations.
A second tax-related question was asked of the 70 percent of
respondents who self-identified as landowners. Those respondents
were asked, considering the value of their farmland and other
assets, whether a change from the current $5 million personal
exemption to a $1 million personal exemption would create a
liability for their heirs that would require the sale of assets.
Eighty-one percent of respondents answered "yes."
For farmers, estate planning is critical. Currently, if a farmer
retires or dies and passes the farm on to other family members, and
their farming operation is valued at less than $5 million, their
heirs would owe no federal estate taxes. However, the current estate
tax rates are set to expire, reverting to a $1 million threshold.
Because farming is capital- and land-intensive, most operations are
valued at far more than $1 million, meaning that any heirs would
almost certainly have to sell land and assets to pay federal taxes,
rather than continue farming.
"Clearly, our members have concerns about their ability to
continue to farm efficiently and, certainly, their concerns are not
unfounded," Nelson said. "It's no surprise that government
regulations topped their list of biggest concerns. As a farmer, I
find burdensome regulations concerning myself. Still, these results
are beneficial as we look to the future and try to ensure that we're
addressing the issues that are most important to our members."
See survey results.
The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau
Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded
in 1916, IFB is a nonprofit membership organization controlled by
farmers who join through their county Farm Bureau. IFB has a total
membership of 412,177, a voting membership of 82,550 and represents
2 out of 3 Illinois farmers.
[Text from file received from
Illinois Farm Bureau]