12th Annual Women in Agriculture Conference Encourages Engagement and Connection
August 15, 2018
The 12th Annual Women in Agriculture Conference held in Ankeny, Iowa on August 2, 2018 provided a number of ways for women to connect and celebrate their roles in agriculture. "The excitement generated by terrific speakers, the engagement of the women, the wonderful food and shared laughter, all combined to send participants home from the 2018 Iowa Women in Agriculture Conference with great memories," said Cheryl Tevis, president of Iowa Women in Agriculture.
The day started off with Mary Kay Thatcher, senior lead of Federal Government Relations at Syngenta and graduate of Iowa State University. Thatcher is considered one of the most knowledgeable experts on farm policy issues in the United States.
Thatcher told a crowd of 162 women a little bit about life inside the Beltway.
Partisan voting is moving people further apart, Thatcher said. This is evidenced by this interesting fact: People are moving to voting districts where they feel representatives share their same political beliefs.
Thatcher also shared some insight into farm bill reform. She said farm subsidies persist and grow, despite talk of reform. She posed the question, “Could agriculture have a farm bill on its own?” The answer? No. The farm bill includes more than just agriculture. It includes Nutrition, Commodities, Crop Insurance and Conservation. Thatcher suggests the agriculture community continue friendly relations with those communities.
The next speaker was Dr. Keri Jacobs, Iowa State University ag economist and Iowa Institute for Cooperatives Endowed Economics Professor. Jacobs’ topic was Producer Cooperatives and Membership in a Dynamic Marketplace.
Jacobs gave an overview of the important laws shaping cooperatives, including the Capper-Volstead Act in 1922, which allowed ag producers to form voluntary co-operative associations for the purpose of producing, handling and marketing farm products.
Jacobs also encouraged women to get involved in leadership roles on their local cooperatives boards.
Angie Triptow, Regional Vice President with Farm Credit Services of America, followed with a discussion of Financial Strategies for Ag Producers.
Triptow touched on the interest rates and their importance to the cost of production. The Federal Reserve raised rates three times in 2017 and twice in 2018 at .25 each time. Though the rates remain reasonable, federal actions impact variable rate debt. Triptow suggested consistently monitoring key performance indicators and knowing costs, having a marketing plan based on facts and making incremental improvements with profits. She said to focus on costs you can control.
The noon speaker was Delaney Howell, Market to Market host. Her presentation was entitled Out-Takes: From Iowa Ag to Global Trends. Howell talked about her travels both nationally and internationally, and shared how much she has enjoyed meeting new people and seeing how important agriculture is around the globe.
Afternoon breakout sessions included presentations from experts in several areas of agriculture. Kristine Tidgren, Director at the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation talked about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and how it might impact Iowans. Women learned about Lanehaven Farms in Northeast Iowa. Lanehaven Farms is celebrating 70 years of building strong relationships with landowners and partners. Angie Setzer, Vice-President of Citizens Elevator and Market-to-Market analyst, discussed ways women can make smart marketing decisions.
The final speaker of the day was Rebecca Long Chaney. Chaney shared her experiences growing up on a dairy farm on the east coast, traveling halfway around the world to live and work in the Australian Outback, and finally, landing in Nebraska. Chaney is the author of Bulldust in My Bra, and her twin daughters have written a series of children’s books focusing on agricultural education.