Just how will the successful farm business of the future look? Where will these businesses go? And are today's farmers up for the challenge?
Those are just a few of the questions that challenged and informed attendees at the first-ever Farm Futures Management Summit going on this week in St. Louis, Mo. The event, sponsored by Agrigold and United Soybean Board, features an all-star line-up of speakers. Farm Futures is part of the Farm Progress family of publications.
In the first day, the 170-plus in attendance got a look at where farm businesses have to change to succeed. They also got a glimpse of the forces at work in the 2007 corn market with demand rising faster than most predicted. There were presentations on where land values may be going and a look into the future of politics and the 2007 farm bill.
After dinner on the first day, Dr. David Kohl, farm management authority (just ahead of the front table), led what he called a 'Bear Pit' where the day's speakers were brought together to discuss a wide range of topics. The panel (at the front of the room) offered their diverse views on the questions presented.
No run-of-the-mill presentation, the first day was topped off by what one presenter - Dr. David Kohl, ag economist - called a Bear Pit. In that session, all the speakers on hand were brought together to tackle farmer questions.
And those questions ranged from whether the ethanol industry may be facing a "bubble" - most panelists agreed that ethanol's future is bright, but perhaps the build-up will slow down going forward. There were concerned expressed about the coproducts from ethanol plants and whether the U.S. livestock industry can absorb this product.
Panelists also dealt with questions concerning land values - from the renter's perspective - noting that landlords will be asking for more. Danny Klinefelter, Texas A&M ag economist, did suggest that farmers strive for longer term rental agreements and if working with several owners consider staggering those agreements so they're not all coming due at the same time.
The event, which continues today, includes in-depth breakout sessions where producers can learn more about specific topics from ways to grow an operation to a farmer panel discussing the practice of sharing equipment.