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Published February 13, 2014, 02:21 PM

Mixed results in Minn. corn growers’ survey

Minnesota corn farmers are cautiously optimistic, but slightly less confident than a year ago, according to an independent survey commissioned by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

By: Jonathan Knutson, Agweek

Minnesota corn farmers are cautiously optimistic, but slightly less confident than a year ago, according to an independent survey commissioned by the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

When asked if corn farmers will be better off, worse off or about the same three years from now, 19 percent said better, 31 percent worse and 47 percent the same. Corn farmers were asked the same question in 2012 and 17 percent responded with better, 28 percent worse and 49 percent the same.

“Respondents overwhelmingly said lower corn prices were the No. 1 issue facing their farms,” said Ryan Buck, a corn farmer in Goodhue and MCGA president. “Production and input costs were second and third. Overall, we’re proud of where we are today despite obstacles and challenges over the years. I think the general outlook remains positive, but we have to continue addressing the challenges out there, both on the farm and away from the farm.”

Corn farmers were less optimistic when it came to the overall direction of agriculture. Fifty-four percent of respondents said things in the ag sector are generally going in the right direction, down from 69 percent in 2012. Thirty-five percent said the ag sector was on the wrong track, up from 18 percent in 2012.

“I think a major reason for the increased pessimism was the unnecessarily long and partisan battle over the new farm bill and recent attacks on ethanol and the Renewable Fuel Standard,” said John Mages, a corn farmer in Belgrade who chairs MCGA’s government relations team. “Farmers need certainty in ag policy to plan for the future. A sudden shift on biofuels policy also hurt farmer confidence. With a farm bill finally in place, I’ll be curious to see what these numbers look like two years from now.”

The survey involved 300 corn farmers interviewed by telephone from Jan. 21 to 27. The margin of error is 5.8 percent.

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