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.

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