Iowa farmers are facing a broad range of economic uncertainties in 2016, and Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s (IFBF) Economic Summit — set for June 27 in West Des Moines — is designed to help provide some clarity, according to Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services.

"There’s just a lot of things that are hard to read right now for farmers about the overall U.S. and world economies and some key factors, like interest rates and overall demand both from exports and domestic markets," Miller said. "Added to that are the unknowns surrounding the 2016 presidential election and the positions that the leading candidates have taken during the campaign."

Gaining perspective

Speakers at the one-day IFBF summit, titled "Buckle Up for a Bumpy Ride," should give attendees some perspective on how to navigate those uncertainties, Miller said.

The summit will feature speakers who will address the overall economic climate, including economist Nathan Kaufmann of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and Charlie Happel, chief financial officer of Farm Bureau Financial Services.

"I think these presentations will give us a perspective on the overall economy and how agriculture fits into it," Miller said. "The recovery in the overall economy has been pretty lukewarm. So it’s important to see how that translates into things that are important to Iowa farmers, like consumer beef and pork demand, as well as the direction of interest rates."

Another highlight of the IFBF Economic Summit will be the re­­marks of Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank. Mitchell, a very engaging and popular speaker, keeps a close eye on politics and how it affects the economy and will discuss those areas at the economic summit, Miller said.

Surprising political year

"It’s certainly been a very surprising year in politics," Miller said. "But now that we have a good idea of who the candidates are for the November election, it’s important to examine their positions to see where they stand in areas critical to agriculture, such as international trade agreements, regulation and farm safety net programs," he said.

The 2016 IFBF Economic Summit, which will begin June 27 at 7:30 a.m., will also feature panels on other key issues facing farmers today, such as trends in land prices and rental rates, the lending climate and the outlook for exports of crops and meats. There will also be speakers to discuss key technologies that have the potential to change farming, including big data and unmanned aerial systems or drones.

Registration for the summit in West Des Moines is $75 per person through June 17 and $100 after that. Check out more information on the Economic Summit, including online registration form and agenda.

Also look for more on the 2016 Iowa Farm Bureau Economic Summit in future issues of the Spokesman.