To assist farmers facing several consecutive years of tight margins and low commodity prices, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) announced the 2017 IFBF Economic Summit: “Overcoming Challenges, Creating Opportunities” on July 20 at the Iowa State Scheman Center in Ames. The summit is designed to provide farmers insights and strategies for managing through this downturned economic period, with pending trade negotiations which have potential for significant impacts to Iowa agriculture. 

“We want to make sure our Economic Summit goes beyond simply surviving and include helping farmers find opportunities out there to earn a premium price for their crops and livestock, or opportunities to significantly reduce their cost of production and improve their bottom lines,” said Dave Miller, IFBF director of research and commodity services. 

Volatile international trade markets and uncertainty regarding current and proposed trade deals, including NAFTA, have led to an unsettled international trade climate.  Speakers during this year’s Economic Summit will discuss the benefits of trade for Iowa agriculture and the current status and future outlook for ag exports.  

“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 for ag trade,” says Miller.  “However, that does not diminish the critical importance of expanding exports for Iowa crop and livestock farmers.”

With early field hearings underway for the new farm bill and legislative work on the horizon, the summit will also provide a timely look at the potential outlines of the 2018 farm bill, which will establish the essential farm safety net for farmers in the coming years. 

Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) president, is a featured speaker.  Duvall, who will be the first AFBF president to speak at IFBF’s Economic Summit, was elected to lead AFBF in 2016.  Duvall is a third-generation farmer from Georgia who raises hay and broilers and has a 300-head beef cow herd. 

The full-day summit will feature a range of Iowa-based and national experts presenting on a range of subjects and issues critical to agriculture today, including economist David Oppendahl of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; John Newton, an AFBF economist; and Jim Knuth, Iowa-based senior vice president of the Farm Credit Services of America. 

This year’s summit will also feature breakout sessions that allow attendees to dive deeper into a range of topics from soil health and cover crops and opportunities in livestock production to ways to build landlord-tenant relationships and trends in the farm machinery markets. 

“This is a period when we all need to sharpen our management and marketing skills to look for future opportunities,” says Miller.  “This year’s IFBF summit will be a valuable tool to help farmers do that.”  

Summit registration, which includes access to all presentations and lunch, is $30 for Farm Bureau members and $75 for non-members before July 11.  Visit or contact Lavonne Baldwin (515-225-5633; for more information.