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VIDEO: Business message

Updated: 01/27/2011 @ 4:34pm

As one of a panel of speakers at a winter agricultural marketing meeting recently, it hit me that times have changed. 

In the past, these gatherings were littered with speaker after speaker offering up their perspectives on the direction of the corn, soybean and wheat markets. The attendees walked away with some idea where their crop prices might be six months down the road.

Have you been to a marketing meeting lately? At this week’s AgCountry Farm Credit Services meeting, a price outlook wasn’t even touched upon until the final speaker, and even he didn’t spend much time on the topic.

Instead, farmers are being schooled on interest rate patterns, math formulas to follow the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the LIBOR rate, trend-following funds and a basket of other economic indicators.

It almost seems like you are at the annual conference for the national association of financial advisors. Where is all of the talk of acreage battles, new agronomic challenges, equipment innovation, and innovative farm practices? When someone once said farming is now big business, they said a mouthful. 

As conference speakers, marketwatchers, including this reporter, and university economists, are spending their time helping today’s farmers understand the numerous ‘outside’ forces that rule their grain world. No longer is it possible for farmers to rely solely on weather reports and government supply/demand numbers as guiding lights for market direction.

For example, even though U.S. farmers are enjoying consecutive years of profitability, ‘guaranteed’ higher interest rates are the biggest threat to the farming industry, according to Dr. Edmond Seifreid, a Purdue University economics professor. Dr. Seifred offered his best advice to this group of North Dakota farmers by urging them to prepare for the future by opening an interest rate adjustment fund.

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