Pro-Ag Outlook Forum set for December 8 in Decorah

Agricultural lenders and suppliers, producers and policymakers grow nervous when commodity prices, input costs, farmland values and lease rates become volatile says Melissa O’Rourke, Farm and Agribusiness Management Specialist for Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach. “Add in weather variables and there is plenty of excitement to manage for the 2018 farming year.”

That’s why O’Rourke recommends that all producers and ag professionals in the region attend a Pro-Ag Outlook Forum December 8 in Decorah.

“Iowa State University agricultural economists cautioned farmers to be prepared for a downturn in commodity values and land,” notes O’Rourke. “Especially in light of these continuing conditions, we’re offering opportunities for producers and ag business professionals to get updated information to help make decisions that need to be made during the post-harvest period,” says O’Rourke.

“The forum begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Pinter’s Greenhouse on Highway 9 west of Decorah,” O’Rourke explained. “This location provides a centralized venue for multiple counties in northeast Iowa and southeast Minnesota.”

Speakers include Dr. Lee Schulz, ISU Livestock Marketing Analyst. Schulz will review the livestock situation, reviewing the profit potential and survival techniques in the livestock sector. Dr. Schulz specializes in livestock economics, agricultural marketing and risk management and has expertise in topics including fed cattle trade, feeder cattle pricing, meat demand, and price risk management and analysis.

Agricultural Economist Dr. Alejandro Plastina will share his latest overview on the Iowa farm profitability outlook, identifying the drivers of liquidity and solvency changes, and highlights what successful Iowa farms are doing differently.

O’Rourke will present a short overview on the trends in farmland rental rates and share resources for following these trends. “I continue to get calls from both producers and owners with questions about cash rent arrangements and related land value trends,” says O’Rourke. “I’ll give a brief overview of what we’re seeing and believe the trends are for 2018.”

The forum features a keynote presentation by Dr. Chad Hart from the Department of Agricultural Economics at ISU. As uncertainty abounds in the crop markets with questions about crop size and global demand, Dr. Hart will discuss the cyclical nature of the markets including the factors shaping the markets and the keys to watch as farmers market their grain over the coming year.

Prior to joining the Department of Economics at ISU, Chad Hart was the U.S. Policy and Insurance Analyst with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and a scientist with the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at ISU. His projections and outlooks are sought after by agriculture professionals across Iowa and the nation.

The forum lasts two and a half to three hours (depending on discussion). Advance registration is recommended by calling the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Decorah at 563-382-2949.

For more information visit the Winneshiek County ISU Extension website at or the ISU Ag Decision Maker website at

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