A prolonged period of low commodity prices has created significant financial pressures for U.S. agriculture, jeopardizing many farming operations and challenging the ability of supply chains to meet ambitious sustainability goals. That’s according to a new report from Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture based on University of Illinois research and analysis.
“Farmers are in a unique position to deliver broader environmental benefits to society based on their management decisions, but, in many cases, they lack the financial resources needed to pursue practices that would improve sustainability outcomes,” said Field to Market President Rod Snyder.
“While certain agronomic practices simultaneously deliver environmental benefits, operational efficiencies and cost savings, others require investments that farmers may not currently be able to shoulder, leaving a role for supply chain partners to help bridge the financial gap.”
Key findings in the Economic Sustainability: Trends in Financial Well-Being report include:
- The financial well-being of U.S. farms has decreased steadily since 2013, largely due to volatile commodity prices. This has been compounded in the past two years by trade disputes, more frequent extreme weather events, and the pandemic.
- The current financial situation will have a significant impact on the types of sustainability practices farms will undertake, with priority given to management decisions likely to have an immediate positive impact on profits.
- Now more than ever, the value chain should consider creative mechanisms that support farmers in transitioning to practices that will deliver more sustainable outcomes.