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From the shadow of Ground Zero to Thoroughbred horse country, new study shows farm profitability in some unlikely places.


(09-01-2005)- Farm Futures, the magazine for large-volume U.S. farmers, is set to release a new study that ranks the best places to farm in the United States.

Based on research gleaned from 1987-2002 Ag Census data, the study ranks more than 3,000 counties focusing on long-term profitability and growth. The September issue lists the Top 100 Best Places to Farm, along with a map and explanatory article. The full list of county rankings will be available online at www.FarmFutures.com.

According to the article, hotbeds of farm profitability are clustered in likely regions such as the hog belt of North Carolina, the rice and chicken belt of the South, and the big commercial farms of California and the Southwest.

Surprisingly, profitable farm regions were also found in some of the most urbanized areas in the United States: Union County, New Jersey, in the shadow of Ground Zero; Suffolk County, New York, home to the tony Hamptons; and Dade County, Florida, most often associated with South Beach. Other unlikely areas include Lake County, Ohio, near Cleveland, home to a flourishing wine and nursery industry; and Woodford, KY, home to thoroughbreds.

“Farmers in urban areas found profitable niche markets, and most have succeeded despite severe environmental regulations,” notes Farm Futures Senior Editor Bryce Knorr, author of the study. “Despite the challenges, they’ve remained highly profitable.”

The Midwest wasn’t left out, either. But here, too, the most profitable place to farm probably wasn’t the most likely.
“Our study found the often-ignored western Corn Belt, in a circle defined by western Iowa, eastern Nebraska and South Dakota, and southern Minnesota, recorded solid profits and outstanding growth over the last two decades,” notes Knorr. “This has been a region transformed by local investment. From a big increase in hog production to creation of soybean processing and ethanol plants, this area shrugged off its image as a place of lousy prices. Cash crop markets strengthened, and growth in crop yields meant more money in local farmers’ pockets.”

Why try to find the Best Places to Farm? “We’re interested in more than bragging rights,” says Farm Futures Executive Editor Mike Wilson. “We want readers to become better business managers. This kind of research helps them understand the kinds of attributes that make for long-term sustainable profitability.”

Farming isn’t a mobile business traditionally. But even that is changing, according to Wilson. “Farmers are moving beyond traditional barriers - some times with farm operations in two states. Like any business owner they are curious about how well they’re doing compared to others. Our list is sure to spark some discussion around the water cooler and the coffee shop.”

Published nine times annually by Farm Progress Co., Farm Futures provides business and management information to 205,000 large-scale, high-income U.S. farm operators.

About Farm Progress Companies:
Farm Progress Companies is the largest U.S. media company serving the agricultural market. The company publishes 18 state and regional farm publications nationwide, such as Prairie Farmer (founded 1841) in Illinois and American Agriculturist in New York and the Northeast, and Farm Futures, a nationally circulated publication for high-volume producers. Farm Progress operates five farm trade shows, including the Farm Progress Show and Husker Harvest Days, and provides tailored marketing solutions, including database, market research and custom publishing. Farm Progress is headquartered near Chicago in Carol Stream, Ill., and is wholly owned by Rural Press Limited. Rural Press also operates agricultural and consumer media, printing and tradeshow businesses in Australia and New Zealand. Rural Press's other U.S. ag publishing operation, Miller Publishing, publishes Feedstuffs, the weekly newspaper serving U.S. and international agribusiness decision-makers involved in animal agriculture, as well as Tack ’n Togs, the leading magazine serving equestrian retailers.

Go to: www.FarmFutures.com

Contacts for Additional Information:

Bryce Knorr- 262/723-4746, bknorr@farmprogress.com

Willie Vogt- 651/454-6994, wvogt@farmprogress.com

Rosemary Schimek, 630/462-2866, rschimek@farmprogress.com


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