Combine Sharing Program Aims to Boost Farm Income

Combine Sharing Program Aims to Boost Farm Income

A combine-sharing program touted Wednesday as the first of its kind aims to give farmers a chance to make some money off expensive equipment that sits idle once harvest is finished, and could provide competition next season for custom cutters.

The "Farmer to Farmer" program from FarmLink, a Kansas City, Missouri-based agribusiness, will let farmers in Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas who have spring or early summer harvests of winter wheat or other crops rent their equipment to farmers farther north. While farm equipment rentals themselves are nothing new, industry officials say the idea and scale of this program is somewhat of a novelty.

"It is very similar to kind of vacation sharing or car sharing program," according to FarmLink spokeswoman Meredith Powell.

FarmLink would contract with farmers who own certain combines from model years 2012 or newer, pick up the equipment after the harvest and deliver them to those who rent the machines for the late summer and fall harvests. Combine owners could make as much as $40,000 a year in extra income by participating, a price based mostly on how much the rental combine is used, she said, and FarmLink would shoulder the cost of any needed maintenance and repairs.

Tracy Zeorian, executive director of the industry group U.S. Custom Harvesters, said she expects farmers will see the program as a great opportunity.

"When the commodity prices were high, we were seeing farmers with brand new combines that we never would have seen otherwise," she said, adding that many farmers are still saddled with payments. "Unfortunately, the cost of equipment is so tremendously high that a farmer can't justify having a combine sitting around for two to three weeks a year."

But Zeorian, who also operates a custom harvesting operation with her husband out of Manley, Nebraska, fears the FarmLink program also amounts to more competition for custom harvesters like herself who travel the country cutting crops.

"When we start losing jobs it is going to hurt custom harvesters," she said. "And the continual profit loss means less and less harvesters out there."

Upon learning FarmLink's estimated added income for farmers, even Zeorian was a bit interested: "Sheesh, maybe we should be renting out our combine — it sure would be a whole lot less headache. That's a fact," she said.

Back to news


Spell Check

Kent Braathen
Grand Forks, ND
12/1/2014 09:27 PM

  This idea has been tried over and over and somehow always fails. The farmers will ultimately be the losers in this situation as most today need several combines, along with a labor force and trucking to handle the harvest in a timely matter. As usual, the winner in this situation will be the middle man. The farmer will end up with lots of hours on his combine in need of high dollar repairs. $40,000 a year? Sounds really good! Have you tried to trade combines lately? Unless you get $300 per hour rent, you'll be losing money.

Tracy Zeorian
Manley, NE
12/1/2014 10:28 PM

  If there were a "like" button on your comment, Kent, I would like it! The author of this article left all that out when I told her the exact same information! And when I said maybe we should rent out our machine, I said it with a sarcastic tone in my voice. You can't hear that tone in the article!