Farm Credit East released the findings of a survey today indicating Northeast farm, fishing and forestry producers are cautiously optimistic about their businesses going into 2015, but are concerned about a number of challenges, including compliance with governmental regulations. This survey asked Northeast producers to provide insight into their 2014 business results and perspectives on the year ahead.

“Northeast agriculture continues to have unique opportunities, but producers are increasingly concerned with the burden of regulations,” said James Putnam, Farm Credit East chief business officer. “Agriculture is an economic engine in the Northeast – with continuing support from agribusiness and farm-friendly public policies, it will continue to grow and create more jobs and economic activity.”

A cross section of 180 Northeast producers responded to this survey. Key results included:

• 81% of respondents continue to be optimistic or cautiously optimistic for the future of their farming enterprise.
• In terms of gross farm income, 72% of producers experienced growth in 2014 as compared to 2013.
• Most respondents (67%) continue to see significant cost inflation in their business.
• The top three major business challenges Northeast producers anticipate in 2015 are compliance with regulations (state and federal combined), availability of labor and financial volatility.
• Survey respondents anticipate consumer buying habits to stay about the same as they have been in previous years, with a cautious outlook on spending in 2015.

“In the Northeast we have thousands of farm businesses that are an integral part of our communities,” Putnam continued. “This survey indicated that farm owners are concerned with the availability of a stable labor supply and that the farm labor issue needs to be addressed.”

In addition, survey respondents reported on their 2015 business plans and goals. Looking back at 2014, survey respondents reported on their business results and operating environment.

This survey was conducted in December 2014. The survey was open to any farm, fishing or forestry producer operating within the seven Northeast states of New York, New Jersey, Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.