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2020 Annual Report
January 2021 | By: James Mintert
Letter from the Director
Looking back to the beginning of 2020, none of us anticipated the pandemic and the impact it would have on everyone. Overnight, it changed how we educate, work and play and, as a result, disrupted wide swaths of the U.S. and world economy including food production, processing, and distribution. The pandemic generated the demand for more information and created opportunities for the Center for Commercial Agriculture to reach new audiences using a multitude of delivery techniques.
After starting the year with a great turnout at the annual Purdue Top Farmer Conference in early January, it looked like a relatively normal winter programming season. The Center conducted several Farm Bill Decision Making Workshops and webinars as well as a series of Crop Marketing and Farm Finance Workshops in February, culminating in one of the best attended sessions at the Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas at month’s end. But the world changed when we turned the calendar to March and all in-person programming came to a halt.
The Center pivoted to even more online program delivery than in the past. Webinar offerings increased to fill the need for updated information regarding shifting market forces and the Purdue Commercial AgCast was launched in April. The Center provided 14 webinars during 2020, a new record for webinar offerings and, combined with 35 editions of the Purdue Commercial AgCast, we were able to offer programs focused on a wide variety of topics ranging from commodity outlook and farm bill and crop insurance decision making to the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. food and agriculture sector. The Center’s webinars generated nearly 6,000 views when broadcast or on YouTube within a week of each live broadcast. Purdue Commercial AgCast is available on all major podcast providers and the 35 episodes produced during 2020 were downloaded nearly 4,500 times.
The Center’s monthly newsletter Commercial AgNews, which launched in late 2019, also helped guide producers and agribusiness personnel to the wealth of information available on the Center’s website. At the beginning of 2020, the Center’s newsletter went out to just over 9,100 subscribers. By year-end the subscriber base swelled to more than 10,600 subscribers helping readers tap into what’s new from the Center. Increasing the Center’s availability on social media was a goal in 2020 and 369 posts were provided on Twitter to the Center’s nearly 1500 followers.
Interest in the Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer monthly reports increased again in 2020. The partnership with CME Group was launched in 2015 and has become a mainstay information source each month for both the ag and business media. In addition to providing a comprehensive report summarizing each month’s survey results, the Center also produces a widely distributed press release and YouTube video that lead to many standing interview requests from major ag media outlets each month. The Ag Economy Barometer website alone recorded over 200,000 page views of the monthly reports during 2020.
The Purdue Farm Business Internship program was in its fourth year in 2020. The program matches Purdue student interns with progressive commercial operations to provide students with valuable work experience and an opportunity to learn more about farm business operation. Despite the limitations of the pandemic, the program successfully placed several students on farm businesses and, once again, both participating students and employers were enthusiastic about the program.
Unfortunately, one casualty of the pandemic was the annual Purdue Farm Management Tour that the Center hosts each summer. Limitations on crowd size and concerns for participants’ health and safety led the Center to cancel the 2020 tour. We’re looking forward to the day when we can again safely host the tour!
Thank you for your interest in and support of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture. As always, if you have suggestions for future programs or research, or you just want to chat, we’d love to hear from you.
Download the full 2020 Annual Report (includes Center Activities, Webinars, Videos, Podcasts, Programs and Publications, Highlights, Council Members, and more).