This week, students attending the New Century Farmer conference will be blogging about the lessons they’re learning and the friends they’re making there. The conference is taking place on the Pioneer campus in Des Moines, Iowa. Topics covered include the global agricultural marketplace, farm financing, demographic trends and risk management.
To start off the third day of the New Century Farmer conference, we heard from Matt Erickson who spoke with us about the importance of the Farm Bill, Budgeting, and Risk Management. As the next generation’s producers of the world’s food, fuel, fiber, and natural resources we need to educate ourselves about the policies and financial status of our government and how it directly affects us and our farming operations. Further, we explored the significance of becoming involved with sharing our story with legislators and taking charge of our own financial decisions.
Next, we heard from Vaughn Jaspers from Cargill about commodity markets. A key message we really took away from this conversation was staying up to date to remain competitive in the market.
Then, we had very energetic discussion about ag advocacy with Troy and Stacey Hadrick. Ag advocacy effects all producers–crop, livestock, and diversified. They demonstrated the damaging effects of unfactual sources. We each practiced sharing key messages and elevator speeches with each other. For example, “My name is Kevin Corn from Ontario, Oregon and my family grows the onions that season your hamburgers.” To put it simply, no one can tell your story like you, so go tell it!
Two groups toured Bridgestone/Firestone, Hawkeye Breeders, Kemin Industries, and Louis Dreyfus Ethanol Plant. This involved watching the procedure of tire making, storage of cattle genetics, the creation and research of biotechnology, and how corn is processed into ethanol. This helped expose us to various segments of the agricultural industry that we don’t get to see every day.
At the end the day, we stopped at Summit Farms where we had the opportunity to ask questions to Bruce Rastetter, who started out small in agriculture and has become quite successful over the years through his investments, careful decisions, and partnerships.
With all we learned today, there were many key take away messages. One thing that many took away was the volatility of commodity markets but how important they are to understand. Ag advocacy is also a vital part of any farming operation to show what we do on a daily basis and that we care about the environment, our animals, and the quality of our products. If you don’t tell your story, someone will tell it for you and it may not adequately represent what you do.
Dakota Fleming, Troy, TX
Maria Rausch, Hoven, SD
The New Century Farmer program is sponsored by Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business; Case IH; CSX Corporation; and Farm Credit; with media partner Successful Farming as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. The program is designed to provide participants with valuable skills and knowledge applicable to their own farming operations. In addition, they will build a network of colleagues that will benefit them throughout their careers.