Crop Production

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 967,000 crop farms in the US produce more than 421 million acres of commercial-scale grains, sugar, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and ornamental crops. The establishments that produce these are generally considered farms but, depending on the commodity produced, may be more specifically known as orchards, groves, greenhouses, and nurseries. About 25% of crops are grown as seed or as input for other crops or livestock.

Older Operators and the Future

There could be a mass exit of farmers from agriculture in the near future, as 36% of the principal farm operators in the US are at least 65 years old and the average age for all principal operators is 58.

Contract Farming More Popular

Contract farming is gaining in popularity among producers.

Industry size & Structure

The average crop farm has two employees and generates about $190,000 in annual revenue.

    • The US census defines a farm as an operation that produces or should have reasonably produced over $1,000 in revenue during a given year, including government payments. Under this definition, there are about 967,000 crop farms in the US.
    • Crop farms produce about $184 billion of value annually using more than 421 million acres.
    • About 98% of farms are owned by farm families where the family owns and/or operates the farm and has done so for generations.
    • Over 2.5 million are employed in the crop sector and over 45% of employees are family members.
    • Small family farms (less than $250,000 in annual sales) make up 88% of US farms and hold 51% of all farm assets.
    • Large farms (more than $1 million in annual sales) account for 68% of the production value.
    • Over 12,600 crop farms are certified as organic, totaling more than 2.7 million acres. These farmers sell about $4.3 billion in organic crops annually. Marketing of organic products is primarily to food wholesalers (60%) and consumers (30%); the remainder is to food retailers.
    • Approximately 89% of family farms and 46% of non-family farms are sole proprietorships.
                              Industry Forecast
                              Crop Production Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Recent Developments

                              Mar 15, 2023 - Mexico Bans Some Imports of US Corn
                              • The Mexican government has shelved its January 2024 deadline for banning imports of biotech corn for animal feed and industrial uses, but is moving ahead with a ban on biotech corn for human consumption, the National Grain and Feed Association reports. “Regarding the use of genetically modified corn for animal feed and industrial use, the date for prohibiting its use has been eliminated,” Mexico’s Economy Department said, noting the decree “prohibits the use of genetically modified corn for dough and tortillas.” Mexico is the top destination for US corn exports, accounting for 27% of all US corn exports in marketing year 2021/22 in terms of volume, according to the USDA’s Economic Research Service. About 20% of the corn Mexico imports from the US is used for human food products. US officials and farmers criticized the partial ban on imports.
                              • Chemicals and crop seeds company BASF has announced it is halting hybrid wheat seed development in North America, AgWeb reported in March. The move is raising fears among wheat growers that the US could become less competitive in growing wheat and cause declining US wheat acres over the next decade, according to AgWeb. Wheat breeders have been working to develop cross-bred wheat varieties that not only increase yields but make the crop more resistant to drought and disease, according Reuters. However, the hybridization of wheat is costly and slow, which doesn’t provide much incentive to stay in the North America market. Instead, BASF is focusing on developing a new type of wheat in Europe. Wheat acres planted in the US have declined over the past 10 to 15 years, according to the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG), which is concerned that production will move to Canada unless the US adopts advanced technologies.
                              • Farm machinery manufacturer John Deere in January signed a memorandum of understanding with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) that the bureau said ensures farmers can repair their own farm equipment or take it to independent repair shops, The Wall Street Journal reports. The agreement formalizes farmers’ access to diagnostic and repair codes, as well as manuals (operator, parts, service) and product guides. It also ensures farmers will be able to purchase diagnostic tools directly from the company and receive assistance from the manufacturer when ordering parts and products. As farm machinery becomes increasingly sophisticated, some farmer organizations have accused Deere and other manufacturers of using proprietary software on their equipment to restrict repair work to the manufacturers’ own dealers. The MOU between Deere and the AFBF has the potential to serve as a model for other manufacturers, according to the bureau.
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