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Corn+Soybean Digest

Producer Scholar Conference Covers Trade Issues, Technology and Farm Structure

It was an honor to be the keynote speaker at the Nuffield Scholars Program in Washington, D.C. Positive-minded producers and presenters from around the world discussed a wide range of topics impacting agriculture including trade issues, emerging trends, technology and farm structure. The following are some perspectives and reflections from producers and participants on the first day of the conference.

  • First, subsidies – regardless of the country – reduce innovation, creative thinking and management along with sustainability and economic viability.
  • Producers from around the globe agreed that volatility is the new norm but it also creates opportunities and a case for high-level management.
  • Change and the fear of change is not just one country’s challenge or problem. This appeared to be universal among producers and their peers throughout the world.
  • The future of agriculture globally is all about the theme of people, planet and profit. Understanding value systems of trading partners and individuals is critical in negotiations.
  • Sustainable initiatives need economic incentives in alignment with the consumer and the global community’s understanding of the agricultural industry. Speaking of sustainability, put thinking back on the farm in finding the balance of people, planet and profit.
  • The producers and speakers were in agreement that there would be tension between the developed and developing world in the next decade.
  • At the conference, many problems were identified with no single issues dominating the agenda, and no one solution. Each came with challenges, consequences and cost; no one business model for agriculture fits all situations.
  • Global producers were in agreement that profitable years often lead to problems in the business and industry.

Well there you have it from some of the leading thinkers and producers worldwide!

Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at

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