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We’ll navigate 2024 with you

The news cycle can be disappointing. That’s one way to put it. I think it can be said another way, too: The news cycle never fails to disappoint. Recent headlines remind us that uncertainty has become the rule rather than the exception. From dicamba to farm bill discussions, we get big news, but the stories don’t tell us quite where we are.

Just like on your farm, at MFA, we go into a new growing season with a goal for the fall. We build a plan and execute it.

Then comes the headlines that upend it all.

A few weeks ago, we received word that the label for dicamba was being pulled. That put a lot of plans in question. The follow-up federal order to allow already purchased stock to be applied for the year was a needed and commonsense adjustment for this season. That’s only short-term certainty, though. The future is less clear.

Meanwhile, news stories reminded us over the past year that the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule continues to be a potential obstacle. The frequency of change of the rule’s definition in the past 10 years leaves us to wonder what happens after the upcoming election cycle. The wandering path to a settled WOTUS injects uncertainty into longer-term plans for improving land and how producers farm.

“Suppliers and farmers alike must be diligent in purchasing and ensuring their input investments are well executed.”

You can say the same for the farm bill. It is costly, complicated legislation, and as complicated legislation often does, it has been kicked down the road. Pushing the farm bill into an election year means we can count on headlines this fall. Of course, there is the possibility that our representatives will expedite work on it early in the year to prove their mettle. Or will they push the debate further toward the bill’s Sept. 30 deadline, when it’s sure to be in the elevated rhetoric of a major election year?

The Federal Reserve’s predicted stance toward interest rates in 2024 could help to increase exports, bolster demand and bring some good news to the farm gate. However, the current administration’s trade moves have focused more on nonagricultural industries, keeping ag trade status quo at best. That’s in contrast to the previous administration, which approached trade as a series of carrots and sticks, favoring the latter. As it looks now, we’ll operate under one of those two positions for another four years—with a sea of uncertainty to sail between now and November.

The above challenges are, at least in theory, within our control, but they play out in a larger world economy where low commodity prices and high input costs are squeezing agriculture’s vitality in the marketplace.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” In the context of our current environment, that thinking should translate into sharpening plans. Suppliers and farmers alike must be diligent in purchasing and ensuring their input investments are well executed.

For our part, MFA’s agronomists, livestock specialists and other industry experts can partner with your farm to provide guidance. The supply chain shocks from a couple of years ago proved that our team could control weeds and feed animals professionally and effectively even when plans get disrupted. In addition, MFA has solutions to manage risk with crop and livestock insurance and grain marketing. These tools can also be built into your planning.

Good luck this spring. No matter the news cycle, we’re here to navigate 2024 with you.

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