A new market survey finds many of the region's farmers in an optimistic mood because demand is strong and commodity prices are high. Exceptions to the overall trend include dairy and onion farmers.
The region's largest farm lender and crop insurance provider describes the ag economy as mostly bullish. Northwest Farm Credit Services vice president Michael Stolp says robust global demand supports the positive outlook. "During the economic recession, agriculture was one of the bright spots and continues to be one of the bright spots."
Speaking from Spokane, Stolp says cattle prices are at historic highs. Increased exports are helping hay and potato growers. 2012 could be a blockbuster year for orchardists too if apple prices remain strong through a projected record harvest. However, Stolp says there are a few exceptions to the rosy outlook. "Strong prices in our grain and feedstuffs markets equal higher input costs for dairy producers and that compresses margins in that segment." Stolp says his market analysis shows dairy and onion producers may slip below the break even line this year.
Stolp nominates the Northwest nursery and greenhouse industry as the best turnaround story of 2012. He says warm weather and economic recovery is stimulating consumer demand for plants.