Ag Issues Forum: Planning Ahead

According to Bill Buckner, head of business operations, North America for Bayer CropScience, there’s a very good reason why the company annually holds the Ag Issues Forum just prior to the Commodity Classic event. “As a company with a vested interest in agriculture, it is our responsibility to make things happen and get the message out to everyone in the field," said Buckner.

And this was indeed what took place. With approximately 100 attendees on hand, Bayer included a line-up of accomplished speakers on all aspects of the global and agricultural economies — from financial analysts to equipment manufacturers, from ag retailers to Midwestern growers. Although each had their own topic of interest to discuss, all participants agreed on one key point — the pressures on agriculture to feed a growing population will only increase in the years ahead.

“The world today consumes 5 billion to 6 billion tons of food,” said J.B. Penn, chief economist for Deere & Co. “By 2050, this is projected to grow to 11 billion to 13 billion tons.”

The Price Is Uncertain

At the same time that the need for food increases, the finances surrounding agriculture are becoming more complicated. “These financial challenges are longer term, not just for 2010,” said John Ryan, president and CEO of Rabo AgriFinance Inc. “We are entering an area of extreme price volatility, for both grain and ag inputs.”

Going into 2010, the shadow of 2009’s uneven year will continue to loom over the marketplace. “In our area, there will be no fall tillage in the east and no fall burndown in the west,” said Travis Messer, agronomist at Plains Grain & Agronomy, Enderlin, ND. “In addition, the growing number of resistant weeds will mean more demand for residual herbicides to help with control and increase the importance of seed treatments.”

A little to the south in Iowa, key issues in 2010 could center on insect and disease control. “During the winter of 2009-10, the ground in our area never froze,” said Peter Bixel, SciMax team leader for Max Yield Cooperative, Mason City, IA. “This could mean more insects and diseases survived the cold, putting more pressure on retailers and growers once the crops begin to come up.”

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