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Farmers identify regulations as biggest threat to long-term profitability

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[December 14, 2013]  CHICAGO Delegates and attendees at the 2013 annual meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau rated government over-regulation as the biggest threat to the profitability of Illinois agriculture in the next 10 years. The answer was in response to a survey of 278 delegates, alternates and other Farm Bureau members attending the meeting Dec. 7-10 in Chicago.

"Once again, our members have identified government over-regulation as their biggest concern for their long-term profitability and longevity," said newly elected IFB President Rich Guebert. "And it's certainly a concern that isn't unfounded. As we move forward this year, our leadership team will be looking for ways to work with our elected representatives and government agencies to help ensure our members will be able to continue to farm efficiently and profitably, without unnecessary rules and regulations from the government."

Forty 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 third consecutive year that regulations were the most-often cited response to the question. Respondents also mentioned the following issues as potential threats to their profitability in the next decade: a combination of higher input costs and lower grain and livestock prices, cited by 32 percent; cash rents and land prices, mentioned by 5 percent; and lack of export demand for U.S.-grown commodities, also mentioned by 5 percent of those responding.

When asked about their corn planting intentions for next year, nearly 82 percent who answered the question indicated their corn acreage would increase or remain the same. Nearly 51 percent of corn and soybean growers said they deliver their products directly or indirectly to the ethanol or soy biodiesel market. And 32 percent of respondents said that from a policy standpoint, the Renewable Fuel Standard has the greatest impact on their profitability. That's nearly double the 18.1 percent who said the farm program has the greatest impact.

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When asked if they purchased crop insurance in 2013, 88.5 percent of respondents said they did so. A nearly identical number, 88.1 percent, said they plan to purchase it in 2014.

The survey also gauged Farm Bureau members' opinions on where IFB should prioritize its efforts in the next year. Completion of the farm bill was the top response, followed by contesting unnecessary regulations and maintaining ethanol policy.

Additionally, 71 percent said they strongly agreed with the need for farm organizations to increase nonfarm consumers' understanding of Illinois farming practices, while nearly 58 percent said they strongly agreed that consumers' support of farming is important to the long-term success of Illinois farmers.

"This is the third consecutive year we've done this survey, and the results are always very telling," Guebert said. "As the new president of the organization, the results will really help me and the rest of the leadership team decide which issues are most important to our members and should be pursued."

[Text from file received from Illinois Farm Bureau]

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