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John Deere Braces for Dear John from Farmers

Written By: Christine Dantz

Thanks to a fickle "Mother Nature," farmers could be faced with sending a "Dear John" letter to John Deere rather than an equipment order. Farming took a hard hit in 2013, and 2014 isn't looking any better. Analysts are forecasting a 27 percent decline in net agriculture income. Because of this decline, the industry's long-time top equipment manufacturer Deere & Co. is also feeling the pinch.

A long list of issues has plagued the farming industry over the past decade.

  • Drought-Reports as of March 2014 indicated: the Western half of the U.S. is in a serious drought; over 3/4 of this half of the country is in a drought; conditions in California are so bad, legislation has been passed to assist communities running out of drinking water. Without a solution to the drought and water shortage, farmers are going to continue to lose money, and that loss trickles down to Deere & Co.
  • Weather-related problems-snow storms, frozen-solid Great Lakes, and record cold has created transportation problems for farmers
  • Farm Subsidies-Farmers have gotten caught up in Washington's politics; aid for farmers and subsidy reform was delayed by bickering political parties until February of 2014
  • Predicted labor shortage-America's current generation of farmers is quickly approaching retirement age, the average farmer is 58-years old; add to, this low enrollment in agriculture schools, without incentive, the industry lacks appeal to the younger generations

Deere & Co. generates two-thirds of its sales in North America, with a large chunk of that going towards the big boy toys such as a farming combine that clears 18 rows of corn at once. As farmers are feeling the pinch, they aren't springing for new technology. Yet, John Deere launched a series of agriculture equipment made for the smaller farmer, more suitably priced to fit their budget. As more Americans grow their own fruits and vegetables, this is a smart move for the company that also finances its' equipment. If it pays off, John Deere may skirt around the incoming Dear John letters from credit-crunched farmers.

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