Survey: Agriculture Industry Confident About Future Profitability; Businesses Prioritizing Efficiency To Drive Growth

by | Oct 25, 2023

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  • More than half of agriculture leaders optimistic about future economic conditions
  • 6 in 10 expect the profitability of their businesses to increase in the next 12 months

Agriculture leaders anticipate the overall economic conditions of the U.S. will improve in the next 12 months despite lingering economic concerns. They are keenly focused on managing profitability by taking command of the business areas they have control over such as increasing efficiencies through automation, adding new products and services with higher profit margins, and leveraging artificial intelligence to analyze data and support decision-making.

These insights are drawn from a nationwide survey of small and middle market companies across the U.S. conducted by Umpqua Bank as part of its annual 2023 Business Barometer report.

Based on the study’s results, more than half of respondents from the agricultural sector are optimistic about future economic conditions, and 59% expect revenues to increase. In terms of profitability, 68% expect an increase in the next 12 months, compared to 62% of healthcare businesses that responded to the survey, 56% of manufacturing, and 53% and 52% of business service and wholesale companies, respectively.

“The agriculture sector is an important part of our livelihood and our economy, and business leaders in this industry are confident in their prospects and planning investments to fuel growth,” said Bill Barclay, Umpqua’s Head of Community and Business Banking. “To tackle factors under their control over the next 12 months, agribusiness plan to invest in marketing, artificial intelligence, and automation, which could further improve their operational efficiency, expand market reach, and bolster bottom lines.”

Priorities in the Next 12 Months

As senior leaders begin to meet and update their business plans for 2024, it is clear agriculture businesses have specific ideas where they will use their investment dollars. Survey respondents noted they are very likely to prioritize the following:

  • 61% Tools to protect payments systems
  • 52% Significant changes to products and services
  • 38% Digitizing new areas to improve efficiency
  • 35% Expanded real estate footprint
  • 29% Onshoring supply chains

Agriculture Sector Taking-On Critical Business Areas

While business leaders are currently focused on growing their business (34%) through marketing, addressing increased costs (26%), and launching technology improvements (14%), they are also looking ahead into 2024. These executives are strategically focused on four key areas they believe most critical for future business success: (52%) improving operational efficiency, (46%) financial management, products and services (29%) and hiring and retention (29%).

Top Concerns

While climate change is among the concerns the agriculture sector has identified, it is also facing other immediate challenges. The top worries that are currently keeping some of the agriculture executives surveyed up at night include (by order of importance):

  • Rising interest rates
  • Access to financing
  • Staffing
  • Inflation
  • Disruptions due to technology innovation

Methodology

On behalf of Umpqua Bank, DHM Research conducted an online survey of 1,250 owners, executives, and financial decision-makers of American small and middle market companies during July 27 to August 8, 2023. 22% of middle market respondents are minority-owned while 23% of small respondents are certified woman-owned and 17% minority-owned. The margin of error is: ±2.8%.

About Umpqua Bank

Umpqua Bank is a subsidiary of Columbia Banking System Inc. (Nasdaq: COLB), and a premier regional bank in the Western U.S., with offices in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. With over $50 billion of assets, Umpqua combines the resources, sophistication and expertise of a national bank with a commitment to deliver personalized service at scale. The bank consistently ranks as one of America’s Best Banks (ranked by Forbes) and supports consumers and businesses through a full suite of services, including retail and commercial banking; Small Business Administration lending; institutional and corporate banking; equipment leasing; and wealth management. The bank’s corporate headquarters are in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Learn more at https://www.umpquabank.com.

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