The New Pro-Ag Seminar Format

Craig Chase, farm & ag business management field specialist

Situation
Farming is getting more complex, profit margins are narrowing, and the need for support from agribusinesses continues to grow. In order for agribusinesses, such as lenders, to support farmers they need to keep updated on global and U.S. agricultural production and policies, marketing and risk management, alternative products and markets, and how agriculture relates to community development.

Response
The Pro-Ag Seminars were provided to lenders and other agribusinesses to keep them informed on the current grain and livestock marketing outlook and related management considerations. These seminars have been around for years. However, with the changes in agriculture, these programs need to change as well. The Waterloo Pro-Ag Workshop in November 2003 took the first step to make the program more comprehensive. Focusing on broader issues such as global agriculture production and policies, overall risk management, and how U.S. agriculture needs to be incorporated into community development, participants received information they can use to help both individual farmers, as well as the communities they live and work in.

Impact

Seventy participants completed an evaluation indicating that they liked the new program format. Eighty percent rated the program excellent to superior, and all but one would recommend this program to others. Specific responses to the evaluation question, “What ideas did you learn today that you plan to use?” varied from specific to general. One response indicated they were going to “stop looking for easy solutions to complex problems; think more long-term.” Another response was, “I liked the more general or macro-economic direction of the program.” Many respondents were positive regarding the information provided on risk, risk management, insurance, and global agriculture.

When asked how they plan to use the ideas presented, many stated they would educate their borrowers. Some other interesting answers were that he or she was “not sure, but it did give me some direction in thinking about the big picture” and “to write articles and generate industry discussion.”

When asked how many times Iowa State University Extension should hold seminars in the future, 69 percent wanted to meet at least twice per year and suggested topics ranging from traditional market outlook to broader issues such as world trade, exchange rates, and niche and value added markets.

Responding to the evaluation, Iowa State University Extension will provide two Pro-Ag Seminars in Waterloo for 2004 (March and November). The topics will be selected from those suggested on the evaluation and range from specific to general. Regardless, the topics will generate discussion and big picture thinking and hopefully allow the participants to respond better to their client needs as well as integrate agricultural development into their communities.

Page last updated: July 8, 2006
Page maintained by Linda Schultz, lschultz@iastate.edu