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Understanding the largest growers.

Gone are the days of offering the same products, services and distribution networks to all growers. Manufacturers must understand the needs and desires of the largest commercial growers to prosper in today's farm economy. Growers not only want products that are priced competitively, they also expect manufacturers to understand and adapt to their high-tech service needs, especially among the largest farms that account for only 22% of farm operators, but 49% of all farm acres.

Kelly Research Group, Inc. and Tubaugh and Associates conducted a recent study of large growers. The study--Marketing Products and Services to Commercial Farmers--involved random telephone interviews with 500 growers with gross farm incomes (GFI) over $100,000.

Average size of all farms represented in the study is 1,409 acres with highest income farms ($500K +) coming in at 3,167 acres and $100-$499K farms averaging 924 acres.

The trend toward fewer but larger farms is expected to continue and farm size will continue to expand at an increasing rate of nearly 6% annually. By 2012, the "average" U.S. commercial farm is expected to expand from 1,409 acres currently to 1,852 acres.

Study results also show that farm operators with high dollar sales ($500K+) are quick to adopt new technologies and rely heavily on the Internet.


* Second year/continuous corn acres are expected to increase rapidly.

* Ethanol destined corn acres are estimated to approach 18% of total acres in 2007.

* Equipment leasing will increase in future years and regional differences do exist.

* Preferences for generic pesticides vary by region.

* Changes farmers need to make in the near future to bolster financial prosperity include: control costs/ increase efficiencies, enhance revenues, expand operation, and embrace new technologies.

* (46%) of growers indicate they have children who could take over their farming operation.

* Cell phones, ATVs, TV satellite dishes and no-till planters are among the most commonly found types of equipment on farms regardless of farm size.

For more information on this study, e-mail John Kelly, kelly or call 314/631-3666.
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Author:Kelly, John; Tubaugh, John
Publication:Agri Marketing
Date:Oct 1, 2007
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