Pro-Ag Outlook Forums set for Nov. 20 in Le Mars, Spencer

Posted November 12, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Agricultural lenders and suppliers, producers and policymakers grow nervous when commodity prices, input costs, farmland values and lease rates become volatile, said Melissa O’Rourke, Farm and Agribusiness Management Specialist for Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach. “Add in prevented and late planting last spring with drought conditions for good measure and there is plenty of excitement to manage for the 2014 farming year.”

That’s why O’Rourke recommends producers and ag professionals attend a Pro-Ag Outlook Forum on Nov. 20 in either Le Mars or Spencer.

The Le Mars half-day forum begins at 9 a.m. on Nov. 20. Then the same program will be repeated at 1:15 p.m. in Spencer.

The Le Mars program will be held at the ISU Extension and Outreach office of Plymouth County (upper level of the Le Mars Convention Center) located at 251 12th St. SE in Le Mars.

The Spencer program will be held at the Iowa Lakes Community College—Spencer Campus at 1900 Grand Ave. (Gateway North Mall) in Spencer.

The forums’ cost to attend at either location is $20 per person if pre-registered. Walk-in registration is $25.

Advance registration is recommended by calling the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Plymouth County (Le Mars) at 712-546-7835; or Clay County (Spencer) at 712- 262-2264.

More information and registration form visit any northwest county extension website at Call your local county ISU Extension and Outreach office for more information or contact Melissa O’Rourke at the ISU Extension and Outreach of Sioux County office at 712-737-4230 or email

“Iowa State University agricultural economists have recently cautioned farmers to be prepared for a potential downturn in the values of commodities and land,” noted O’Rourke. “Especially in light of these volatile 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.”

The opening speaker is 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 will be returning from an international trade mission and will share information focusing on volatile beef and pork prices driven by demand and world economy factors, including exports, herd size and feed costs.

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. His research on a host of livestock economic issues has resulted in multiple publications and numerous outreach contributions.

Schulz grew up on a cow-calf farm in central Wisconsin. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University as well as an M.S. degree in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University.

O’Rourke will present a brief outlook on the trends in farmland rental rates in 2014.

The forum features a keynote presentation by Dr. Chad Hart from the ISU Department of Agricultural Economics. 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 ISU’s Department of Economics, Chad Hart was the U.S. Policy and Insurance Analyst with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and a scientist with the ISU Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD). His projections and outlooks are sought after by agriculture professionals across Iowa and the nation.

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