Seed costs squeeze soybean farmers

May 21, 2024


A new report by the Economic Research Service (ERS) reveals a concerning trend for U.S. soybean farmers - The cost of seeds has risen dramatically since 1997. The ERS data shows a staggering increase of over 260% in soybean seed costs, significantly outpacing the overall growth in production costs (157%).

In 1997, the average cost of soybean seeds per acre for U.S. farmers was just $19.72. However, by 2023, that figure had climbed to a much higher $71.03 per acre. The report identifies the period between 1997 and 2010 as a time of particularly rapid seed cost increase, with a 200% jump during those years.

The ERS attributes this price surge to advancements in seed technology, such as improved planting methods, seeding equipment, and seed quality. Additionally, the report highlights the introduction of genetically modified (GMO) soybean seeds in the mid-1990s. While initial adoption rates were low, they rose rapidly, reaching a range of 60% to 96% by 2002.

The rising cost of soybean seeds presents a challenge for U.S. farmers. While technological advancements can offer benefits, they also come with a financial burden. Farmers must carefully weigh the potential advantages of these advancements against the increased seed costs they entail.