What will the New Year bring? We can guess, but no one knows for sure.
Here are 10 questions I've heard from farmers going into the New Year. How these questions play out will impact Indiana agriculture. These questions are in no particular order.
1. Will we have another cool, wet spring? That certainly depends upon whom you talk to. So far climatologists have been right on the money with a mild winter. Some are saying that the El Nino causing it will shift to a La Nina and bring dry weather for the growing season. Past experience working with Jim Newman, Ken Scheeringa and others says that while that may happen, it would mean a large, sudden shift. Big changes in nature usually don't happen that fast.
2. Will there be another drought? If there is, will it be as severe as 2012? Refer back to question one, and remember, right now climatologists are happy they got the winter right- summer is six months away.
3. Will the Indiana General Assembly finally put the soil productivity index that could increase property tax bills for farmers to bed once and for all? Katrina Hall, Indiana Farm Bureau, says it's too early to tell.
4. Will the Indiana General Assembly tackle meaningful reform that will actually lead to reduced property taxes on farmland? One alternative would be lowering the property tax cap on farmland from 2% to 1%, Hall says.
5. Will EPA allow Enlist Duo to be sold and applied on Enlist crops, or will it stick with its efforts to revoke Enlist Duo's registration? Both ag business and farmers with resistant weeds will watch this one closely.
6. Will the DuPont and Dow merger proceed? If so, will the picture about what might happen to Dow AgroSciences and DuPont Pioneer be any clearer by the end of the year?
7. Will any of the other herbicide products waiting for registration see any action this year, especially with EPA's action on Enlist Duo? These include herbicides for the dicamba-resistant crops. Monsanto has Xtend in the wings, and BASF is prepping Engenia.
8. Will corn and soybean prices break out of the doldrums, or will they stay low, keeping budgets tight?
9. Will the Indiana General Assembly address concerns about the Indiana State Fair Board, or is the fight over? How will the Board fare under new leadership?
10. What other mergers might happen in the ag world that impacts Indiana agriculture if tight margins continue? There aren't even solid rumors yet, but continue tight margins could eventually force changes in the industry.