Survey Shows Iowa Farmers Are Optimistic About 2023 and the Ag Economy

(Radio Iowa) One of the state’s largest independent agricultural banks is releasing the results of its annual survey of thousands of farmers, gauging their opinions on a range of topics. Bank Iowa president and CEO Jim Plagge says 67-percent of farmers surveyed said they believed the ag economy would be the same or stronger in 2023, while more than 70-percent felt they were in the same shape or better off financially as the prior year.

“The national sentiment wasn’t nearly as optimistic as the sentiment among Iowa producers,” Plagge says. “I think we’re blessed with wonderful natural resources, good marketing opportunities, especially for our grain and livestock. I think that probably causes a bit more optimism among Iowa farmers than among Midwest farmers as a whole.” While finding people to work on an Iowa farm remains a challenge, the survey also shows farmers are mainly concerned about finding the -right- people to work on the farm.

“Last year when we did the survey, just finding labor was the number-one concern,” Plagge says. “This year, that was the number-three concern, but perhaps getting more precise, the number-one concern was ‘qualified labor’ and I think that reflects what pretty much every industry is seeing across Iowa.” The number-two concern on the survey was labor expenses. Plagge says farmers can’t be complacent about qualified labor. He suggests Iowa farmers may need to “become their own universities, training the next generation with hands-on-the-farm apprenticeships.”

“With agriculture, perhaps one of the reasons for that is because it’s just becoming more and more technologically driven,” Plagge says. “You can’t just pluck somebody off the street and put them in a tractor anymore. Finding qualified labor that can run that equipment, knows how to use the technology, it’s becoming more and more of a challenge.” The survey finds technology is leading the way in terms of investment decisions. In the past two years, the percentage of farmers who say they’re considering investing in ag-tech jumped from 22- to 36-percent. Plagge notes, it’s the larger farms that are willing to invest more than smaller ones.

“Economically, it’s more difficult for them to justify the expenditure and many of them are content to run with their equipment that is not as technologically driven,” Plagge says. “But I think we’re going to continue to see growth in the usage of technology, precision ag, autonomous tractors are coming, the way it looks, and of course, auto-steer has been with us for quite a few years.” The survey found nearly every farmer reported implementing some type of ag-tech into their operations, with automation technology being number-one, followed by livestock tech and artificial intelligence. West Des Moines-based Bank Iowa is the state’s second-largest family-owned bank, with locations in 23 communities. See the full report at: