The Iowa Farm Bureau Fed­eration (IFBF) will host a major agricultural summit on July 20 in Ames to provide farmers insights for managing through the stressful economic period and to discuss potential opportunities.

The IFBF summit titled "Over­coming Challenges, Creating Op­­portunities" will be held at the Scheman Center on the Iowa State University campus. It is designed to help Farm Bureau members and others develop strategies for surviving what has developed into a prolonged period of low commodity prices, said Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services. "But we also want to go beyond simply surviving to helping farmers find opportunities out there that can earn a premium price for their crops and livestock, or opportunities to significantly reduce their cost of production and improve their bottom lines," he said.

Range of experts

The one-day summit will feature a range of Iowa-based and national experts, ranging from economist David Oppedahl of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; John Newton, an economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF); and Jim Knuth, the Iowa-based senior vice president of the Farm Credit Services of America.

Zippy Duvall, AFBF president, is set to provide the keynote luncheon speech at the IFBF Economic Summit. Duvall is a third-generation farmer from Georgia, who raises hay and broilers and has a 300-head beef cow herd. He was elected to lead AFBF in early 2016.

This year’s IFBF Economic Summit will also feature a series of breakout sessions to delve deeper into a range of subjects important in today’s agriculture. The list of breakouts includes sessions on soil health and cover crops, opportunities in livestock production, ways to build landlord-tenant relationships and trends in the new and used farm machinery markets.

"These breakouts will give the summit’s participants the ability to focus on the topics that are most interesting and critical to the health of their farms," Miller said.

Trade discussions

Given the unsettled international trade climate, speakers at the 2017 IFBF Economic Summit will discuss the benefits of trade for Iowa agriculture and the current and future export climate, Miller said.

"With the United States pull­­ing out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and planning to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it’s certainly a dynamic period of ag trade," Miller said. "However, that does not diminish the critical importance of expanding exports for Iowa crop and livestock farmers."

The IFBF summit will also look at the potential outlines of the 2018 farm bill, which will establish a safety net for farmers in the coming years. There have been some early field hearings about the new bill, but the bulk of the legislative work will probably be done in late 2017 and 2018, Miller said.

"So our farm bill discussions at the Economic Summit will be very timely," he added.

The IFBF selected the breakout session speakers at the 2017 summit to provide farmers information to improve their management and marketing skills, Miller noted. "This is a period when we all need to sharpen our management and marketing skills and to look for future opportunities. This year’s IFBF summit will be a valuable tool to help farmers do that," he said.

Registration for the summit in Ames is $30 for members and $75 for non-members before July 11. Prices will rise after that deadline.

Information on the summit, including an online registration form and agenda, can be found at Also look for more on the 2017 Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit in future issues of the Spokesman.