Is sharing a thing now in agriculture?

I was talking with my brother, who farms in Northern Minnesota, about the spring planting conditions this year, and he told me he got everything seeded in five perfect days. I’ve seen his equipment, and I didn’t know how that was possible. Turns out he farms with a friend. He bought the tractor, the friend bought the air seeder; they helped each other out and got everything done. When I visited him in July, his crops looked so good – better than ever before. The horrific weather patterns hadn’t hit his area quite as hard as most of the country. An Illinois farmer would have been proud of his soybeans.

Talking with a few other farmers this past summer and fall, a couple of them mentioned that they had a group of farmers that they farmed with – sharing equipment and labor to reduce expenses, increase productivity and efficiency, and most importantly, keep farming.

Is that a thing now, I wondered? After all the talk over all the years, is machinery sharing finally happening?

Farmers Are Sharing to Survive at Higher Rates Than Ever

For the answer, I turned to J.L. Farmakis, Inc.’s annual Farmer Speaks survey, where we ask about machinery sharing. We have asked this question over the years. In 2018, 3% said they were planning to share equipment with other farmers; that jumped to 9% in the 2019 version of the survey.

Machinery costs are a major component of farm expenses, and anything that reduces those costs goes straight to the bottom line. A row crop tractor gets used maybe 300 to 400 hours per year, other equipment even less. An editor friend once told me that the only machine that got used less than a combine was a fire truck. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it makes a good story.

We will be asking this question again for the 2020 season, along with all the other great questions included in the Farmer Speaks study. And like today’s farmers, we are going to share the results.

If you’d like a copy, please let me know.

And have a Merry Christmas!