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Bushel® State of the Farm Report Released

The report shares perspectives from America’s larger, high-growth, and next-gen farmers

FARGO, N.D., Feb. 28, 2024 – Bushel released its annual State of the Farm Report, sharing the voice of the U.S. farmer with preferences and opinions on farming practices, grain marketing strategies, and technology usage and perceptions. 

Bushel is an independently owned software technology company focused on developing digital tools for the agricultural supply chain. Started in 2017, the Bushel State of the Farm Report is based on one of the largest farmer surveys in the industry. 

Many of the respondents represent larger farms than average, with 58% of respondents farming  500 acres or more, contrasted with the most recent USDA Census of Agriculture. The report also shows a high number of growth-oriented respondents with 39% reporting aggressive growth plans for the next five years (10% growth or more). More than 60% of respondents who indicated they have plans for high growth are in the 18-40 age group. This parallels the USDA Census of Agriculture, which noted a rise in the number of new and beginning (operating 10 or fewer years on any farm) as well as younger (under the age of 35) producers. 

“Not only will today’s ‘young farmers’ be the future decision-makers and influencers, but our report shows they have aggressive growth plans. It could be easy to overlook these segments – and their preferences and behaviors – but they may represent a much larger share of the market in 10-plus years,” said Bushel product marketer Julie Christensen. “How will agribusinesses position themselves to build and grow relationships, beginning today? Technology may be an important factor.”

Key Takeaways

  • Large farms (2,000-plus acres) can account for a disproportionately larger share of the market.
  • Farmers under 40 years old and high-growth farmers represent future customers and markets. 
  • There is aggressive adoption of technology by younger and growing farmers.
  • Price of equipment, profitability, and inflation are the top three concerns reported by surveyed farmers. 
  • ‘Increasing operational efficiencies,’ ‘improving marketing strategy,’ and ‘tracking/improving field performance’ were the highest-rated management opportunities. 

Grain Marketing

  • Large and growing farms are more comfortable pricing production early. Large-scale farms are more likely to follow advisor’s recommendations and set price targets when profits are achievable. Farmers under 40 are still dependent on cash flow for making grain marketing decisions.
    • 35% of 2000-acre farm respondents are comfortable marketing 50% at or before planting, whereas only 25% of smaller-sized farm respondents feel the same. 
  • Overall, these larger and growing farms use a balanced approach when it comes to marketing grain. While spot cash sale was the most prevalent strategy, nearly all grain marketing strategies (11 total were offered as a choice) are used by at least 20% of respondents. 
  • Among respondents under the age of 60, 65% leave open orders (offers) with grain buyers, contrasted with only 45% of respondents older than 60. 
  • The most influential grain marketing resource by far is local grain buyers with 38% of respondents saying they rely on that resource the most. 

Use of Technology

  • Weather, accounting, and financial record-keeping are the highest-ranked activities for which farmers use a farm-related app or software. Farmers under 40 view software’s value beyond just convenience – with an even split between helping them manage costs and increasing revenue. 
  • 33% of respondents are willing to submit grain offers / sell grain to grain buyers through an app or website. Likelihood approaches 50% among younger and high-growth producers.
  • 70% of respondents use one or more farm record-keeping tools. While the majority still use “old-school” pen and paper, it is down 11%. 
  • While only 30% of respondents admit to having a documented marketing plan, it has increased 12% from 2023. 
  • More than 40% of farmer respondents said they are willing to share data with accountants and crop insurance providers. More than a third are willing to share with their agronomist and banker/lenders.

Payments Trends

  • For the second year in a row, Bushel’s State of the Farm survey asked about payment trends. This year’s report shows a 12% decrease in paper check payments to farmers, with increases in payments via ACH and digital wallets. Still, more than 70% of grain settlements are being paid by paper check. The USPS continues to warn against mailing paper checks due to increased fraud. 
  • The report shows a steady rise in the use of digital payment processors over the last year; last year 61% of respondents selected ‘none of the above’ when asked if they use various popular digital payment platforms. This year’s showed 24%. 

Sustainability Perceptions

  • More farmers said they participated in carbon programs than in the previous year. The 2024 report shows a nearly 10% increase from last year’s survey responses asking about carbon program participation. Younger farmers are much more likely to participate in these types of programs: 50% of the 18-40 age group reported participating in some kind of payment-based carbon program.
  • Nutrient management is the most widely adopted practice by farms (57%) and more than 50% of larger farms report using no-till on some or all of their fields. 
  • Cover crops are more popular with younger farmers with a little over 40% of farmers ages 18-40 reporting that they use cover crops as a farming practice. 

Doing Business with Farmers

  • If bids and hauling distance are similar among competing grain buyers, farmers under 40 said ‘fastest payments’ and ‘marketing programs’ are the primary reasons they would sell to one grain company over another. 
  • Farmers under 40 are showing less emphasis on relationships with staff with only 12% responding as a key factor in selling to a grain company, compared to 21% overall. 
  • When communicating with grain buyers, farmers prefer text messages. Telephone and websites have the largest gap between actual and preferred communication channels (-11 percentage points).

 

To download the report: Visit bushelfarm.com/state-of-the-farm-report

 

About Bushel

Founded in 2011, Bushel is an independently-owned software company and leading provider of software technology solutions for farmers, grain buyers, ag retailers, protein producers, and food companies. Since its launch in 2017, the agriculture platform has grown rapidly, powering more than 2,600 grain and ag retail facilities across the U.S. and Canada with real-time business information for their producers. The platform is used for more than 45% of grain origination in the United States and Canada, resulting in one of the largest technology network effects among farmers and grain buyers in the U.S. Headquartered in Fargo, N.D., the Bushel platform includes its flagship mobile app, websites, trading tools, digital payments and money facilitation, market feeds, API services, farm management software, and a professional services division focused on agriculture. Bushel complies with SOC 2 standards.

2024 State of the Farm Available: U.S. farmers surveyed on ag tech, grain marketing, sustainability, payments, and more.