Ag Issues Forum: Looking Ahead

The 6th annual Ag Issues Forum, sponsored by Bayer CropScience, had it all. Topics discussed included feeding the ever-expanding global population, facing regulatory hurdles at all levels, better managing finances and addressing critics of modern agricultural practices.

No matter what way it was sliced, however, the more than 70 media professionals who attended the event came away with one overlaying message — agriculture needs to speak up. “We as members of the agricultural industry need to be advocates for the ag community,” said Mike Deall, vice president of marketing, portfolio management for Bayer CropScience, during his opening remarks.

Tom Nagle, a managing partner for Statler Nagle and The Tipton Group, agreed. “How do we as the food industry respond to the changing needs of media, society and culture?” he asked. “This is the tremendous problem we face as an industry — how our good information gets communicated.” Nagle also suggested the industry form a permanent communications group capable of spreading the industry’s good word and combat negative and false claims.

Mounting Challenges

All speakers at the AIF agreed that getting the industry’s positive message out now is critical — particularly as the political climate in Washington, DC, has changed in the face of multi-trillion dollar deficits rhetoric. As former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Clayton Yeutter reminded attendees: “Policy in agriculture could depend on how the budget deficit discussion plays out.”

In his estimation, Yeutter believes the 2012 Farm Bill will see significant cuts in its support of conservation and nutrition. More significantly, the “safety net” now provided to the nation’s growers will change. “Agriculture will want to preserve its safety net,” he said. “The new Farm Bill won’t eliminate this, but it will redefine it, with more emphasis on risk management.”

Besides this debate, Yeutter said agriculture will need to work on improving the public’s image of biotech crops as well. “We are going to have a lot of work in the coming years in this area,” he said. “We will not be able to feed the people of the world 50 years from now unless we increase food production significantly. Biotech can help us accomplish this.”

So can new technology. According to Gary Blumenthal, CEO of World Perspectives, U.S. growers are some of the most efficient food producers on the planet, with approximately 34,000 farms producing 50% of all commercial U.S. ag production (out of a total of more than 2 million). For many of these, the use of new technologies has been key to achieving this level of efficiency. “There has been an immense adoption of precision agriculture practices and products as the prices for these has dropped and the technology has improved,” said Blumenthal.

Another challenge from agriculture could come directly from the policies of the Federal Reserve. According to Jason Henderson, vice president and Omaha Branch executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, agriculture is well-positioned to take advantage of the nation’s improving economy. “People are eating steaks at restaurants again,” he said. “This, in turn, is helping to keep commodity prices at high levels.” However, he added, long-range projections by USDA predict that crops such as today’s $7 per bushel corn prices will eventually settle back into the $4 per bushel range after 2013 — and remain there for the rest of the decade.

In addition to commodity prices, Henderson said agriculture needs to keep an eye on interest rates. “When interest rates rise, farmland values will fall,” he said. “Right now, where interest rates head will depend upon the pace of inflation and overall economic strength.”

Ultimately, though, World Perspec­tives’ Blumenthal said that the weather might present the biggest challenge to agriculture’s success in the near term. “In 2011, it is 22 years since we had the last major crop failure in this country,” he said. “And historically, the longest strength we’ve ever had in this country between major crop failures is 22 years.”

Leave a Reply

Legislation Stories

Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Pipe rack
LegislationCourt Sides With Ag Retailers On PSM
September 23, 2016
The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled the Occupational Safety and Health Administration violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act when Read More
Soybean Plant closeup
LegislationOhio Soybean Association Names Pat Tiberi Legislator Of The Year
August 3, 2016
The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has announced that Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) has been named one of two Legislators of Read More
Soybean Field
LegislationOhio Soybean Association Names Brian Hill Legislator Of The Year
July 19, 2016
The Ohio Soybean Association (OSA) has announced that State Representative Brian Hill (R-Zanesville) has been named one of two Legislators of Read More
Trending Articles
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsanto Merger
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
STS16 2017
SprayersHagie Manufacturing Releases 2017 STS16 Sprayer To Market
November 16, 2016
Hagie Manufacturing LLC’s largest full season applicator is now available with enhancements for the 2017 model year. Hagie is officially Read More
Latest News
ManagementARA 2016 Report and Crop Mix for 2017
December 9, 2016
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj talk about the recent Agricultural Retailers Association meeting and the projected acreage mix for Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In …
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
Ryan Bartlett
Crop InputsCompass Minerals Appoints Vice President, Innovation An…
December 8, 2016
Ryan Bartlett, Ph.D., has joined Compass Minerals as vice president, innovation and product development. Dr. Bartlett will be responsible for Read More
HerbicidesHerbicides 2017: New Cropping Systems Set For Debut
December 7, 2016
Herbicide-resistant weed are inching ever-closer to a potentially frightening saturation point here in the U.S. Heading into 2016, USDA planting Read More
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Acquires Michigan Ag Retailer
December 7, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis’ Agribusiness, a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution and marketing of plant protection, seed and nutritional Read More
Fertilizer storage The Andersons
CropLife 1002016 Fertilizer Report: Another Really Rough Year For A…
December 7, 2016
In many ways, the fertilizer category cannot seem to catch a break. During the early part of the 2010s decade, Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Winter wheat
HerbicidesTalinor Herbicide Approved For Wheat And Barley
December 7, 2016
Talinor herbicide from Syngenta has received federal registration from the U.S. EPA, giving wheat and barley growers a new option Read More
Forage Sorghum
UncategorizedMilestone Achievement Continues For Dow AgroSciences, A…
December 7, 2016
New and innovative forage products are on the horizon driven by continued collaboration between Dow AgroSciences, a wholly owned subsidiary Read More
Palmer pigweed seedhead in cotton
HerbicidesNew WSSA Factsheet Explores Weed Seeds And Their Longev…
December 7, 2016
Did you know some weed seeds can lie dormant in the soil for more than a century and then sprout Read More
Crop InputsARA 2016: 5 Developments Worth Monitoring Into 2017
December 6, 2016
You can pretty much set your watch to it (do people even still wear watches? I know I do…but I’m Read More
Tim McCardle, ARA Chairman
CropLife 100BRANDT COO Named ARA Chairman
December 5, 2016
BRANDT EVP and Chief Operating Officer Tim McArdle has been named chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) during a Read More
Crop InputsWilbur-Ellis Receives ResponsibleAg Certification At Mo…
December 5, 2016
Wilbur-Ellis Co., a recognized leader in precision agriculture technology and the distribution of crop protection products, announces the ResponsibleAg certification Read More
Young Corn Closeup
Eric SfiligojThe Read On 2017 For Agricultural Fortunes Is Anybody’s…
December 5, 2016
As I (and others) have written in recent months, the nation has just experienced one of the most offbeat election Read More
Acceleron B-300 seed coating
Crop InputsThe BioAg Alliance Launches New Yield-Boosting Microbia…
December 5, 2016
As part of their commitment to develop and commercialize innovative microbial solutions for farmers through The BioAg Alliance, Monsanto Co. Read More
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research have announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify the Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More