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

Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts Supporting Agriculture
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmation Of New EPA Administrator
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by Senate
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmakers
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
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
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
Latest News
Soybean Plant closeup
HerbicidesRegional Listening Sessions Give Farmers A Voice In The…
February 27, 2017
Both scientists and regulators have had a lot to say about the growing problem of herbicide resistance and how weed Read More
Greystone Construction built the tension membrane fertilizer storage building (left) and steel seed treater building (right)
CropLife 100Pinnacle Announces Successful Exchange Offer Results An…
February 27, 2017
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC has announced today the early tender results of its previously announced offer to exchange (the “Exchange Read More
IEI Barge Fertilizer Potash Port Terminal
EquipmentLegacy Building Solutions Receives Design-Build Merit A…
February 27, 2017
When IEI Barge Services needed a building capable of storing and loading fertilizer, they turned to Legacy Building Solutions to Read More
ManagementSouth Africa Update and the New New Leader G5
February 24, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the recent visit to South Africa by sister magazine AgriBusiness Global and the Read More
Fall Creek Watershed
StewardshipUpdate: Nutrient Stewardship In Indiana Requires Cool, …
February 24, 2017
Update: The application deadline for NCRS funding has been extended to March 17, 2017. Green leaves sparkle in the sunlight. Trees Read More
Greenleaf Technologies TADF03-D Dual Fan Nozzle
NozzlesSix Greenleaf Nozzles Approved For XtendiMax With Vapor…
February 22, 2017
Greenleaf Technologies has announced that six of its TurboDrop D Series nozzles have been approved for use with Monsanto’s XtendiMax Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Hires Manitoba And Eastern Canada Account Man…
February 22, 2017
Tiger-Sul, a global leader in sulphur fertilizers and crop performance products, has announced that sales veteran Trevor Loewen has joined Read More
NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More