INDIANAPOLIS — Each year at the Indiana Farm Bureau State Convention, the organization’s president reflects on the past year with members from across the state. INFB President Randy Kron shared his thoughts in his annual address on Dec. 15, where he and host Gerry Dick, veteran broadcaster and host of Inside Indiana Business, had a frank conversation about the ag economy and the challenges that may await farmers in 2023.
Kron, who is entering his eighth year as INFB president, discussed some of the most important issues facing agriculture today, starting with the ag economy and what a challenging year 2022 turned out to be due to universal price increases for inputs, including seed and herbicides, but especially fertilizer and fuel.
“It was a challenging planting season for so many reasons,” explained Kron. “Fertilizer and fuel are two of the largest line items when it comes to row crop farming. It cost more to put a crop in the ground this year than most of us have seen in our lifetimes.
“And grain farmers aren’t the only ones facing challenges. Disease pressure, market volatility, rising feed costs and inflation are on the minds of the livestock and poultry sectors too.”
Kron provided insight into some of the factors causing input price increases. The first being the supply chain. Kron clarified there have been a number of reasons for an impacted supply chain, including lingering effects of COVID-19, last year’s Hurricane Ida that damaged fertilizer plants on the Gulf Coast and the war in Ukraine. He also noted the lack of supplies affected farmers’ ability to get equipment and parts in a timely manner, which added to the challenges of this year.
Despite these difficulties, Kron said farmers are still eternal optimists.
“I’ve farmed for 39 years, and one thing has remained the same over all those years – I always think next year will be better,” said Kron. “I think every farmer thinks next year will be better – we have to. I guess it comes down to our love for the land.”
Kron did note that this year’s harvest turned out better than expected for most Indiana farmers. Even though supply was tight, demand was high, so farmers have received good prices for their crops. Therefore, most farmers are remaining profitable this year because margins are good, despite all the issues faced during planting season.
Kron was cautious in his outlook for 2023. “The supply chain will still be impacted, meaning input prices will remain high, but crop prices will likely come down, causing margins to be tight.”
When asked about national issues in 2023, Kron stated that Farm Bureau will have an important job in the farm bill debate – a piece of national legislation that governs many agricultural and food programs. Specifically, Kron mentioned how critical the legislation is for farmers in terms of crop insurance, but also the importance the farm bill has on nutrition. Seventy-five to eighty percent of the farm bill is centered on nutrition, providing significant benefits to low-income families through food programs, like the SNAP initiative.
Kron closed by thanking staff, volunteers, members and his family for their support throughout the year.
“Even when things are at their toughest, Hoosier farmers rise to the challenge. And we will do that in the coming year,” said Kron. “Farmers aren’t afraid of hard work.”
The 2022 INFB State Convention continues through Saturday, Dec. 17 and includes a brand-new trade show, AgriConnect, featuring agribusinesses, breakout sessions covering topics top-of-mind to farmers and keynote speakers.
The 2023 INFB State Convention will be held Dec. 14-16 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
— Indiana Farm Bureau