Indiana Farm Bureau recently surveyed members who are active in production agriculture or own an agribusiness with the goal of understanding their major concerns so the organization can develop future programming and services to address their needs.
The 2023 Fall Member Survey, which was conducted over a 14-day period in late August, received more than 2,100 responses. There was substantial feedback on topics such as financial health of the farm or business, and estate and succession planning for the future of the farm.
When asked about how financial health of their operation compared to the previous five years, only 27% of respondents indicated that the business was slightly or much better. When looking at expectation of financial health for the next five years, 30% of respondents thought the next five years would be slightly or much better financially. However, more than half of respondents 35 years old or younger thought the next five years would be better, revealing an optimistic trend in the younger generation.
Similarly, respondents 35 years old and younger are more optimistic that their business will be passed to the next generation with 37% very confident or extremely confident this will occur. Conversely, respondents 51-75 years old are the most pessimistic with 37% not confident or only slightly confident that another generation will continue the business.
The survey also revealed how certain types of farmers look at the future with 42% of full-time farmers very confident or extremely confident that the business will be passed down, whereas 38% of part-time farmers are not confident or only slightly confident this will occur.
“It isn’t surprising that full-time farmers are more confident in passing down their operation,” said Dr. Todd Davis, INFB chief economist. “This reflects the strong ag sector profitability in 2022. Part-time farmers rely less on farm income to fund family living so they do not see as much of the strong sector return that a full-time farmer would see, which may contribute to why those members have some doubt in passing down the business to the next generation,” Dr. Davis added.
While some farmers are confident that their operation will be passed down, 61% of respondents 50 years old or younger reported they do not have a succession plan in place. Additionally, 35% of respondents 65 and older did not have a succession plan for their farm or business.
“The purpose of this survey was to gauge member sentiment on important issues and collect valuable data that will help drive future INFB events and programs,” said Debra DeCourcy, APR, INFB executive director of marketing. “For example, knowing that members intend to pass along their farm, but they do not have a current succession plan means INFB’s estate and succession planning programs are greatly needed and could make a profound impact.
“This fall survey was a companion to the spring member survey we did earlier in the year. We plan to make these surveys an annual occurrence because the data we garner is paramount to adding value to our members.”