Economist offers crop outlook at AFBF annual meeting in Nashville

Farm Forum

The top two factors influencing crop markets in 2013 will be the weather and the potential for a rebound in demand, which diminished last year with drought-driven high prices, Chad Hart told attendees at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting held in Nashville, Tenn. The event was held Jan. 13-15 and attracted more than 6,000 participants from across the country.

Hart said, “We’re not done feeling the effects of the weather system that’s hit us over the past couple of years.”

Of the decline in corn demand, Hart said it had to happen. “When we saw the drought coming, prices went up, demand went down. The question for 2013 is, can we move forward?”

Hart said a slight increase in demand for corn for feed suggests we can push past the pinch of high prices. In addition, better-than-expected yields and the moderating of prices bode well for upping demand.

Although the corn export market has been cut in half because of higher prices, growers are taking little notice with domestic feed needs driving much of the demand, according to Hart. On the other hand, climbing prices have had little effect on international demand for soybeans, which got a little boost from late-season rain.

On a related note, if projection holds out for this year, Brazil will surpass the U.S. as the world’s top soybean producer.

The drought and the high-prices it led to have caused a drop in biofuel demand, which until recently was steadily climbing. Hart said that he doesn’t expect much growth, if any, in the ethanol industry, at least over the next few years.

South Dakota Earns Honors

During the annual meeting, state Farm Bureaus were recognized for outstanding membership growth, as well as financial support of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. South Dakota was among the honorees.

The South Dakota Farm Bureau received the Navigator Award for membership growth. To achieve this honor, the state must reach 105% of its membership goal for the year.

From the American Farm Bureau Foundation for agriculture, whose mission is increasing ag literacy, state Farm Bureaus receiving the Scholar Award were: Alabama, Delaware, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Dakota. The Scholar Award is given to the six state Farm Bureaus with the highest total donations within their membership groups to the Foundation.

In addition, 29 state Farm Bureaus received Apex Awards, including South Dakota. The Apex Award is presented to state Farm Bureaus that have increased total investment in the Foundation by 10% or more over the previous year.

As well, the South Dakota Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee was recognized for their contribution of nearly $3000 to the Feeding South Dakota campaign. Donations for the contribution were collected from county Farm Bureau organizations at the SD Farm Bureau meeting held in Spearfish this fall.

Many voices, one vision

In his annual address to AFBF attendees, AFBF President Bob Stallman, a farmer from Texas, noted the meeting’s theme “Many Voices, One Vision,” saying, “While there is much diversity in agriculture, it’s important to sing from the same songbook.”

Stallman noted that American agriculture faced the challenge of drought in 2012, but scored major policy victories, including permanent estate and capital gains tax changes.

Regarding the Farm Bill, he stated, “What Congress did on the Farm Bill is not perfect, but at least it gives us certainty for 2013.” Stallman also noted that with needed reform in key areas such as fiscal, environmental and labor policy hanging in the balance, agricultural unity will be essential in 2013.

Stallman added that it is time for America’s elected leaders to put political differences aside for the good of the nation.

During his remarks, Stallman also praised farmers and ranchers for their innovation and productivity, sufficient to “meet the diverse and growing food demands” of today’s consumers. “Consumer tastes are all over the map, and they continue to change,” he said.

He noted that agriculture must continue to address consumers concerns. He encouraged Farm Bureau members to tell their personal stories about how they are using fewer resources to grow crops and produce meat, milk and eggs.

“Consumers really listen when we talk about our desire to continually improve sustainability, quality and safety on our farms,” he said. “We must open our doors-and maybe more importantly, open our minds-to consumers and their perspectives about food and agriculture.”

South Dakota Farm Bureau receives honors

South Dakota Farm Bureau (SDFB) came home with several honors from the American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting held this weekend in Nashville, Tenn. SDFB earned the American Farm Bureau’s “Navigator Award” in recognition of exceptional membership growth. South Dakota Farm Bureau reached 106 percent of its state membership goal in 2012, the fourth highest gain in the nation. The organization’s membership stands at 13,072 member families, an all-time record for the state.

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture also recognized SDFB with its Apex Award, earned when a state donates 10 percent more to the Foundation than during the previous year, and the Scholar Award, for making the highest financial contribution in South Dakota’s membership group.

“I would like to thank all of our volunteer members and our staff who work so hard to make South Dakota Farm Bureau successful,” said Scott VanderWal, President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau and family farmer from Volga, S.D. “Earning these awards from the American Farm Bureau is a real honor.”

“We appreciate the opportunity to serve South Dakota Farm Bureau members from all across the state,” added Wayne Smith, SDFB Executive Director. “I’m looking forward to another successful year of helping farm, ranch, and rural families to tell the positive story of agriculture.”

Lee Kopriva of Raymond, S.D. represented South Dakota in the Young Farmers & Ranchers (YF&R) Discussion Meet after winning the state contest in November and advancing on to the national. The YF&R Discussion Meet is a public speaking contest designed to simulate a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected from each participant and they exchange ideas and solve problems on predetermined agricultural topics. Kopriva advanced through two