Farm equipment manufacturers have begun a push to lower the cost of equipment and equipment components.
But the focus on making farm equipment more affordable, rather than lowering prices, has some people scratching their heads.
The industry’s focus on lowering costs has come under fire from some farmers, who worry that the focus could encourage the use of more expensive equipment and components, like equipment for chemical sprays.
The Farm Equipment Association of Minnesota has been meeting in a series of events, including a conference this week in Minnesota, to get the message out to farmers.
“We’re trying to get everybody talking about it and try to get everyone talking about the fact that we have to do better, and not just keep doing what we’ve been doing,” said Scott Anderson, the association’s director of marketing.
In an effort to cut costs, Anderson said, the group is launching a website, farm.com, that will offer consumers the option to compare products.
The group also is working with farmers to introduce more products, like a farm-fresh vegetable or an extra-virgin olive oil, which farmers have been able to make cheaper because of the industry’s low prices, Anderson noted.
But farmers are not alone in wanting to cut the price of farm equipment.
A growing number of states are considering bills to raise the cost or even eliminate the use and sale of farm products, said Scott Miller, a farm and food safety attorney with the Minnesota Farm Bureau.
The Minnesota Farm Equipment Act would require manufacturers of agricultural equipment to sell to farmers a minimum of one year’s supply of the product or equipment that they make for the farm, or at least 30 days of that product or its equivalent, whichever is longer.
It also would require producers to make a minimum $1,000 payment to farmers if they sell less than 10 percent of the farm equipment, or $1 million if they make less than 15 percent of their farm equipment or at most $500,000 if they produce more than 15% of the farms farm equipment annually.
Miller said the bill is a compromise.
The bill has not been passed. “
We’ve had a good relationship with them, and I’m sure there are many people who would like to see them pass that bill, but at the end of the day it’s about saving money for farmers.”
The bill has not been passed.
But the Minnesota Federation of Agriculture, which represents farmers, said it’s looking forward to hearing about its chances of passage.
“The goal of this legislation is to give consumers more information on farm equipment and the best practices that can be used by farmers,” said Bill Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota federation.
“If you can’t have a conversation with a farmer about a particular product, then it should be made available to them by the state.”
The state Farm Equipment and Equipment Safety Act, which has bipartisan support, is expected to pass in the coming weeks.