Cautious Optimism for Minnesota Ag

Fifth GreenSeam State of Agriculture Report shows the majority feels state’s agriculture is heading in the right direction.

Cautious optimism is the overreaching theme from the 2024 State of Agriculture Report, an initiative of GreenSeam.

Overall, 76% of respondents feel that Minnesota agriculture is headed in the right direction. Though that is a good majority, Megan Roberts says that is down from 82% in the 2023 survey.

This is the fifth year of the State of Ag Survey, and this year’s general feel for the direction of Minnesota agriculture mirrors the 2020 survey with 76%. In between that first year and now, the positive outlook has been 92%, 83% and 82% for 2021, 2022 and 2023, respectively.

This annual survey is a collaboration between Minnesota State University-Mankato, South Central College and GreenSeam. It is conducted online anonymously in January and February, and the results were announced March 19.

Though optimistic, “there is an awareness of the tailwinds of rising costs, continuing challenges with talent workforce and then, of course, there are also policy and environmental concerns,” Roberts says.

In addition to rising costs, Roberts points out that the lower optimism from last year could be pinned on lower commodity prices. “I thought, ‘Let’s do a year-over-year look at cash corn and cash soybean prices,’” she says. “So 365 days ago, we were, give or take depending where your basis is and where you’re hauling it to, we [spent] $2.20 more per bushel for cash corn, and approximately $3 per bushel more for cash soybeans. That’s a pretty significant reduction in cash grain prices.”

Roberts is an assistant professor of management at MSUM, and the agribusiness and food innovation program director at the College of Business. In addition, she and her husband also operate a Blue Earth County corn, soybeans and farrow-to-finish hog farm.

Survey respondents represented both ends of the environmental spectrum, as some felt regulations went too far, while others felt regulations were helping in their jobs.

Respondents were not required to indicate their home county, but those who did represent 53 of the state’s 87 counties, and Roberts says that regionalism came through in concerns raised by hog and dairy producers over California’s Prop 12 (that dictates how hogs are raised) and the overall dairy industry picture.

Always of concern is the availability of talent, or lack thereof, to fill employment voids, and that was reflected in the survey, as the number of businesses claiming not to be affected was reduced from 17% in 2023 to 12% in this year’s survey.

Get them young
DQ Spencer says a common thread within the survey as well as the seven focus groups is something “a lot of communities, industries and businesses are going through, and that’s human capital.”

“Find the talent, retain the talent,” he says. “In 2023 a lot of the issue was ‘Where are the people?’ Now it’s more of ‘how do I manage the people and how do I retain the people?’”

Spencer, a professor of business management at MSUM, says more businesses (54% in the survey) have turned to internships as a way to aid students down their career path, and 52% providing part-time jobs.

Planting the seed that agriculture is a viable career path must begin even before a person is in the job market, Spencer says.

“Yes, the present is very important, but we need to think about the future,” he says. “[Focus groups] talked about getting to the students earlier, not just in college career fairs or high school career fairs, but also getting to them in middle school, elementary school.”

Reaching youth and their families even before the child is enrolled in school can be achieved, and Spencer says organizations such as the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota in Mankato provides a perfect educational platform. “We’re building displays and activities and exhibits to make it more fun, but they’re also ag-oriented and ag-friendly,” he says. “A lot of the time people don’t know what ag is, but ag is everything. The more time that we can spend with students and their parents creates that awareness.”

In full disclosure, Spencer serves on the board of directors of the Children’s Museum.

Despite the various negative aspects, Roberts says survey respondents feel good about the region “and the vibrancy of our agribusiness community here in Minnesota.”

GreenSeam is an economic development organization for food and agriculture in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, and it is part of Greater Mankato Growth. Visit GreenSeam’s website for the complete State of Agriculture 2024 Report.

Click here to read the full article on Farm Progress.

Sam from GreenSeam – State of Ag Survey Results

GreenSeam Director, Sam Ziegler, stopped by Talk of the Town with Lisa Kaye to discuss the results of the 2024 State of Ag Report. Click here to listen to the conversation.

GreenSeam Has Released its 2024 State of Ag Report

GreenSeam has released its 2024 State of Ag Report. Linder Farm Network’s Dan Lemke has more on concerns within the ag and food sectors. Click here to watch.

2024 State of Ag report

Tuesday saw researchers release the 2024 “State of Ag” report, which pools data from across the food and agriculture industries to gauge the state of the economy across Minnesota.

The data is gathered by polling farmers from every corner of Minnesota, and researchers say that farmers are generally optimistic, but that the past year has presented challenges, both new and evergreen.

“76-percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the state of ag is moving in the right direction. So there is a lot of optimism out there but it’s a bit more cautious out there, as we have seen rising costs, lowered commodity prices and just a few other challenges,” said Megan Roberts.

This is the fifth year that Greenseam in Mankato hosted an event breaking down the annual report.

The event saw breakdowns and Q&As from the research team as well as talks from representatives from the University of Minnesota Extension and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.

That paired with the opportunity for industry leaders to meet has resulted in an event that continues to grow every year,.

Greenseam says attendance has doubled over last year’s event.

“You have the production of agriculture all the way through the entire ecosystem that is here, so there is just a natural tendency to look at this region for places to be a part of statewide events and outreaching is, we’re a natural ag epicenter in the state of Minnesota,” said Director Sam Ziegler.

Click here to watch the full video on KEYC News Now.

Annual GreenSeam Survey Shows State Still Bullish on Agribusiness

Sam Ziegler, president and director of GreenSeam, notes that in the past 20 years the state has lost many farms and lost 2 million acres of farmland.

Still, the value of agribusiness products has soared over the same period and crop and livestock production alone stand at more than $21 billion a year.

Ziegler kicked off an event Tuesday in Mankato to release the findings of the fifth annual State of Ag Report, which surveys a wide range of ag stakeholders statewide.

Megan Roberts, director of the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Program and an assistant professor of management at Minnesota State University, who helped lead the survey, said those surveyed remain bullish on agribusiness, with 76% saying they thought ag in the state was moving in the right direction.

“So there’s certainly some optimism out there,” Roberts said.

She said some respondents said they were positive about agribusiness because the state has a diversity of businesses contributing.

“We have more than one thing working for us in this region when it comes to ag,” Roberts said.

Still, she noted the percentage of respondents who thought ag was moving in the right direction was a little lower this year than in the previous three years.

Part of that, she said, might be the top challenges those surveyed listed: rising costs, ongoing labor issues and increased regulation.

Roberts, who along with her husband operates a farm, noted that while costs are rising, commodity prices have fallen. Compared to exactly one year ago cash corn prices are $2.20 a bushel lower and soybean prices are $3 lower.

When it came to regulations, views diverged. Many said there are too many regulations on the ag sector, while many said increased regulations have been a benefit to emphasizing soil and water health.

When ranking which taxes were the most challenging, property taxes led the pack, followed by income, payroll, sales and estate taxes.

The 2024 State of Ag survey was conducted online in January and February via Minnesota State University. The survey reached 334 respondents, which was an increase in participation from last year.

Respondents represented a wide variety of agricultural connections, including farmers, agribusiness managers, higher education administrators, human resource professionals, lenders and community leaders.

GreenSeam, part of Greater Mankato Growth, is an economic development organization for food and agriculture in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

Click here to read the full article on The Free Press.

2024 State of Ag report release event planned

GreenSeam will release its annual State of Ag report during a special National Ag Day event from 1 to 4:30 p.m. March 19, at Sky One Eleven, 111 S. Second St., seventh floor, Mankato.

The fifth annual report collects data from across the food and ag industry to empower businesses and inform public officials. Attendees will receive an exclusive first look at the findings and hear an overview of the regional food and ag industry’s challenges and opportunities for 2024.

Food and ag businesses, educators and community leaders from across southern Minnesota are encouraged to attend.

Megan Roberts and DQ Spencer of Minnesota State University, Mankato, will present key takeaways from the survey and focus groups, looking at the last five years of data to show where the regional industry is headed. Themes of this year’s survey are workforce, state regulations and rising costs.

Ben Winchester, Extension Educator and Rural Sociologist of the University of Minnesota Extension, will offer a data-backed perspective on the vitality of rural and ag-based communities, while Minnesota Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey will offer the department’s perspective on the past and upcoming year for the statewide industry.

Click here to read the full article on The Globe.

GreenSeam to release State of Ag report March 19

GreenSeam is releasing its fifth annual State of Ag report March 19.

The event is 1-4:30 p.m. at Sky One Eleven (Eide Bailly Tower), 111 S. Second St.

The report collects data from across the food and ag industry to help businesses and inform public officials. Attendees will hear an overview of the regional food and ag industry’s challenges and opportunities for 2024.

Presenters will be Megan Roberts, director of the agribusiness and food innovation program, and DQ Spencer, assistant professor of management, both from Minnesota State University.

Themes of this year’s survey are workforce, state regulations and rising costs.

The event also features a presentation from Ben Winchester, educator and rural sociologist of the University of Minnesota Extension. He studies the social, economic and demographic aspects of rural Minnesota.

Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Assistant Commissioner Patrice Bailey will conclude the event.

Visit greenseam.org/stateofag for registration and agenda details.

Click here to read the full article on The Free Press.

Sam from GreenSeam Stops in to Invite Us to Take the State of Ag Survey Now!

GreenSeam Director, Sam Ziegler, stopped by Talk of the Town with Lisa Kaye to discuss the State of Ag survey. Click here to listen to the conversation.

GreenSeam seeks input on Ag survey

GreenSeam invites all people of southern Minnesota’s food & agricultural industry to participate in the 2024 State of Ag survey, providing insights on the wellbeing of the industry and where it’s headed.

The survey takes 10-15 minutes to complete and will be open through Feb. 9. It can be accessed by visiting GreenSeam’s website, www.greenseam.org, and clicking “State of Ag Survey”.

This year, respondents have the chance to win a $250 Visa gift card.

The results of the survey will be released in a report and presented by GreenSeam and its MSU partners in an event on Mar. 19 —National Ag Day. Location and time to be announced.

GreenSeam partners with Minnesota State University to create and host the survey and facilitate focus groups in communities across the region.

The State of Ag Report emerged in 2020 to fill a void in Minnesota’s agribusiness data. The survey continues to evolve to provide insights and data points for bench marking and identifying areas that need to be addressed.

Any ag or ag-adjacent organization is encouraged to respond to the survey, including but not limited to producers, manufacturers, educators and professional service providers.

“Your input matters,” GreenSeam’s President and Director, Sam Ziegler said in a statement. “By sharing your perspectives as an engaged individual of this industry, you are playing an important role in shaping it into a better place to do business.”

Click here to read the full article on The Free Press.

GMG will honor volunteers at annual meeting March 5

Greater Mankato Growth will hold its annual meeting March 5 where it will also honor volunteers of the year.

The event will be 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Minnesota State University’s Centennial Student Union. To register go to: greatermankato.com/am-meeting.

GMG’s units — Greater Mankato Growth, Visit Mankato, City Center Partnership and GreenSeam — will honor their volunteers:

GMG

Randy Berkland, retired from Blethen Berens, has served on the GMG advocacy committee for many years. He has been a consistent voice on policy issues.

“For all my life, starting with my parents and continuing with many teachers and mentors, I have been encouraged to leave the world a little better than when I entered,” Berkland said in a statement.

Visit Mankato

Mankato Marathon bike medics Randy Knutson, Joe DeLory and Terena Wilkens play a vital role in the safety plan for the Mankato Marathon as the key leaders of the volunteer bike medics. Leading up to the race, they train and recruit all volunteer bike medic riders and during the event manage the group via the command center.

City Center Partnership

Mike Lagerquist, The Free Press Media. Lagerquist has consistently volunteered with CityArts Sculpture Walk during installation and deinstallation, as well as offering in-kind photography services for CityArt in 2023.

“I volunteer because it gives me the ability to provide the most immediate, visible support for a cause I support,” Lagerquist stated. “I don’t always have the financial wherewithal to give, but offering my time and talents is almost always an option. Then I see firsthand impact I can have or additional support that is needed.”

GreenSeam

James Gordon, Pioneer Bank. Gordon has gone above and beyond since joining the Business Retention & Expansion committee and serving as its chairperson. In 2023, he led the charge to develop the committee’s business retention and expansion outreach strategy.

Click here to read the full article from The Free Press.