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Arkansas Agribusiness Conference to focus on technology, price risk management, and farm policy

Arkansas State University's annual Agribusiness Conference to be held Feb. 13, in Fowler Center and the Convocation Center in Jonesboro.

Make no mistake -- agriculture is big business in Arkansas. USDA statistics show that the value of crop and livestock production exceeded $7.5 billion in 2007, when the last Census of Agriculture was completed. The total economic impact is much larger.

Arkansans operated 48,300 farms with more than 13.5 million acres of land in 2011, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

To help maximize producers’ success in northeast Arkansas and enhance the educational experience for Arkansas State University agriculture students who soon will be stepping into the jobs for which they are preparing, the College of Agriculture and Technology will conduct its nineteenth annual Agribusiness Conference, Wednesday, Feb. 13, in Fowler Center and the Convocation Center.

The college is bringing in some the industry’s heavy hitters to present timely sessions on price issues, commodities, public policy decisions, and other trends affecting agriculture. One such subject will be the highly debated 2008 federal farm bill which was recently renewed, but for only an abbreviated period.

More than 400 people from five states typically attend the annual conference to hear presentations by nationally prominent speakers, including three former U.S. secretaries of agriculture in previous years. 

Producers and students benefit

“Our guests who work in the agricultural industry tell us the conference provides unique information not available from other sources in the region,” according to Bert Greenwalt, professor of agricultural economics and director of the Agribusiness Conference. “In addition, this event provides our students with a tremendous opportunity to learn directly from agricultural experts and newsmakers.”

Joining the ASU College of Agriculture & Technology as conference sponsors are: Judd Hill Foundation, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Allenberg Cotton Company, Arkansas Farm Bureau, Bunge North America, Busch Agricultural Resources, Farm Credit Midsouth, Glaub Farm Management, Greenway Equipment, Inc., Helena Chemical Company, Liberty Bank of Arkansas, Riceland Foods, Inc., RiceTec, Inc., and the USA Rice Federation.

On-site registration begins at 8 a.m. in the Fowler Center. Morning sessions will be held in Fowler Center; lunch will be served at noon in the Convocation Center, followed by afternoon sessions there.

Morning general session

The morning general session features four speakers and a panel discussion.

Jerry Roell, director of the John Deere FarmSight and WorkSite programs, will report on developments in agricultural technology. Texas A&M economist Joe Outlaw will discuss the next farm bill and its impact on Mid-South agriculture.

Following the morning break, James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, will discuss macroeconomic trends and their implications for agriculture, and Michigan State University economist David Schweikhardt will discuss “Lessons from the 2013 farm bill Debate.”

A panel of all general session speakers will discuss issues and take questions from the audience to conclude the morning session.

Chilton is luncheon speaker

After conference participants move to the Convocation Center, Bart Chilton, commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, will present the luncheon address.

The afternoon program features four special interest sessions.

Thomas Erickson of Bunge North America, Carl Brothers of Riceland Foods, and Chilton of the CFTC will discuss “Price Risk Management Issues.”

Jeff Johnson of Allenberg Cotton Co. and Carl Brothers of Riceland Foods will discuss “Rice and Cotton Market Issues and Outlook.”

In the livestock industry session, Adam McClung, executive vice president of the Arkansas Cattlemen's Association, will discuss “Livestock Market Trends and Issues.”

University of Arkansas economist Ron Rainey will report on the MarketMaker direct marketing program for locally grown food. Afternoon sessions end at 3:45 p.m.

Continuing education credits are available according to guidelines of the Arkansas State Board of Public Accountancy, the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, the Arkansas Certified Crop Advisors and Arkansas Crop Consultants, and the Arkansas Department of Education.

Admission to the conference and luncheon is free, but preregistration is encouraged to assist with planning. More information and on-line registration are available on the ASU College of Agriculture & Technology website.

For telephone registration, contact Phyllis Johnson in the College of Agriculture and Technology at (870) 972-2085 or email

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