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Agricultural Outlook Forum Highlights

For the 94th year economists, policymakers, and nongovernmental organizations gathered for the Agricultural Outlook Forum. The event is USDA’s largest annual meeting and attracts up to 2,000 people, with many others following along closely at home. This year the Agricultural Outlook Forum was held in Arlington, Virginia, and was themed The Roots of Prosperity.

Attendees shared quotes and highlights on Twitter using the #AgOutlook hashtag. Discussions hit on a number of topics important to farmers and ranchers around the country.


Water was a topic of concern in several sessions at the Agricultural Outlook Forum. Jon Radtke of Coca Cola highlighted how the company has partnered with the National Forest Foundation and local communities to increase its water replenishing projects. The importance of sound science was also discussed in regard to water management practices.

Agricultural Business

A session called Consolidation in Agriculture addressed the facts and consequences of the increased number of mergers and acquisitions seen in recent years. Speakers covered the anti-trust and competitive ramifications of consolidation among agricultural businesses. Economists also shared data and forecasts regarding farm businesses. Read 10 Ag Mergers and Acquisitions From 2017 for a quick review of recent ag business announcements.

Programs, Policy, and Regulation

As Farm Bill and NAFTA deadlines quickly approach, there was plenty of discussion surrounding programs, policy, and regulation changes. The USDA released information about Farm Bill spending forecasts for each of the commodities. Overall, total farm payment programs to farmers are expected to continue the downward trend. Keep an eye on the News section of for the latest details on the farm bill and trade agreements in the weeks ahead.

Rural Issues

A number of breakout sessions highlighted rural issues including high-speed internet access and the opioid epidemic. Several speakers took time to emphasize the importance of investing in infrastructure. For information on broadband connectivity and the impact of opioids in rural America check out these articles:

The Digital Divide Must End

Farmers Hit Harder by Opioid Crisis Than Rest of Rural U.S. – Survey

Drug-Abuse Deaths Contribute to Shrinking Rural Population

Livestock and Poultry

USDA economists announced production forecasts for livestock and poultry at the 2018 Agriculture Outlook Forum. Cargill and Perdue executives also shared their perspectives as part of the event.


As in years past, USDA economists released projections for crop acres and markets. Outside factors impacting those markets were also discussed. Corn, soybeans, and cotton numbers got the attention of farmers and economists following along on social media. Read these articles from for more insights:

Mammoth U.S. Corn and Soy Crops to Keep Supplies Large, Constrain Prices

USDA’s Acreage Announcement is No Surprise

USDA 2018 Forecasts See Soy Ending 35 Years of Corn Dominance

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