Survival of the Beginning Farmer
Monsanto reported net sales down ten percent and profited 42 percent lower in 2016. Meanwhile, Cargill reported higher sales and earnings attributing the Animal Nutrition and Protein Division for higher earnings.
A USDA news release says running larger operations and selling directly to consumers through things like roadside stands and farmers’ markets may actually help beginning farmers stay in business. Beginning farms with direct-to-consumer sales had a survival rate of just over 53 percent while those without DTC sales survived at 47 percent. The difference in survival rates for different-sized farms was substantial, ranging from nine percent of the largest farms to four percent of the smaller farms. The USDA says farmers with direct-to-consumer sales can get a higher price for their product and reach a certain level of sales with less machinery and land. That can mean a more stable and higher source of income and a need to borrow less money, which can also mean a better chance of survival.
Hop acreage has increased 65% during the last five years thanks to the boutique brewery craze from 31,000 in the US to 51,000. 70% of that land is planted with high demand varieties, and competition is fierce leaving small boutique breweries are struggling to compete in the competitive hop market.