2019 Annual Report
January 2020 | By: James Mintert
Letter from the Director
This past year was one that those of engaged in production agriculture will never forget. An ongoing trade dispute with China and a delayed planting spring planting season that, ultimately, led to record prevented plantings of spring crops helped give us a wild year. African Swine Fever that devastated China’s pork production and spread to other Asian pork producers disrupted meat markets and meat trade. Ag trade concerns were not limited to China as a replacement for NAFTA, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, was negotiated and then debated in the halls of Congress. The unprecedented volatility in agriculture meant there was a tremendous need for ongoing updates and management education among the nation’s farmers, which the Center helped fulfill.
Webinars and recorded videos have proven to be a great way for the Center to reach out to the nation’s agricultural producers. The Center produced nine webinars during 2019 that were subsequently made available on the Center’s YouTube channel. Combining registrations for the live broadcasts with subsequent YouTube viewership indicates these programs reached over 10,000 viewers during 2019.
Interest in what U.S. farmers were thinking with respect to the ag economy was never higher than in 2019. The Purdue-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer completed its fourth year of operation in 2019 and the barometer’s reach keeps expanding. Widely quoted in both the agricultural and business press, the monthly surveys create opportunities to query producers on a variety of timely topics ranging from their perspective on agricultural trade to their interest in investing in new technology. In addition to the monthly reports provided via the barometer’s web site, the Center recaps each month’s barometer results in a short video. The barometer also results in countless press interviews with the Center’s Associate Director, Michael Langemeier and me each month. Once again, the Ag Economy Barometer and related information were featured in a session with Center staff at the national corn and soybean producer convention, the Commodity Classic, held during late February in Orlando, Florida.
A summer highlight each year is the Purdue Farm Management Tour. This year’s Tour featured 4 family farming operations in north central Indiana’s Wabash and Huntington counties. The Tour is a joint effort between the Center and Purdue Extension Educators in the two host counties. Each year the Tour features in-depth discussions with successful farming operations to help attendees identify management strategies they can implement on their own farms to improve profitability. In spite of this year’s weather-related planting delays, over 300 farmers and agribusiness staff members attended this year’s Tour at four top-notch north central Indiana crop and seed production operations.
The Purdue Farm Business Internship program was in its third year in 2019. 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 operations. Participation was up in 2019 and, although the program remains small, interest is growing among both Purdue students and Indiana farms and we expect more students to participate in 2020 than a year earlier.
Finally, in cooperation with two of our newer agricultural economics faculty members, Nate Delay and Nathan Thompson, the Center surveyed 800 U.S. corn and soybean farmers to learn more about the farm data they collect and how they use that data to improve decision making on their farms. More details regarding information garnered from that survey are available in this year’s report.
Thank you for 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 2019 Annual Report (includes Center Activities, Ag Economy Barometer, Research, Papers and Presentations, Council Members, and more).