Top Farmer Conference helps farmers improve operations

Jun 02, 2014

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Corn Belt farmers and agribusiness managers can learn strategies to adapt to a changing business environment at Purdue University's annual Top Farmer Conference July 15-16.

Purdue and University of Illinois farm management experts will help participants look at their operations from a business standpoint ­and analyze their economic opportunities and challenges.

"Midwest agriculture experienced an unprecedented boom from the mid-2000s through 2013, but margins in the crop sector could tighten significantly over the next several years," said James Mintert, Purdue agricultural economist and director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture, which hosts the conference. "We developed the sessions with that in mind. We want participants to focus on key decisions farmers will be making in this new environment."

The conference will be held at Purdue's Beck Agricultural Center, 4540 U.S. 52, West Lafayette. The workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. July 15 and concludes at 3 p.m. July 16.

Top Farmer features two days of educational programming and opportunities for those attending to network with their peers and speakers. Several sessions will deal with crop prices, which are expected to be lower in 2014, and management strategies to adapt to the changing agricultural marketplace. Participants also will learn how the 2014 farm bill will affect them, find out what's ahead for farmland values and rental rates and identify key financial measures to monitor their farms' financial health.

A session focused on putting Big Data to work on the farm will be a key feature of the conference, using actual farm precision data to see how productivity and profitability can be improved.

Jason Henderson, director of Purdue Extension and professor of agricultural economics, will give the keynote address, "Macroeconomic Outlook: What It Means for U.S. Agriculture." A longtime observer of the agricultural economy, Henderson served as vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and was one of the primary developers of the Federal Reserve System's Agricultural Finance Databook before joining the Purdue faculty in 2013.

"Top Farmer provides information to make better decisions and build a more profitable enterprise," Henderson said.

U.S. farms use borrowed capital extensively, and an increase in interest rates could change profit margins for producers and present challenges for U.S. agriculture, he said. Henderson's presentation will examine the key drivers of U.S. interest rates and help prepare attendees for changes in the years ahead.

In addition to the presentations, the conference is the opportunity for farmers to get together in small groups and discuss issues. "A lot of interaction and learning takes places in these groups," Henderson said.

Certified Crop Advisers who attend the conference can earn continuing education units.

Source: Purdue University