Earlier this month, the Idaho Bankers Association (IBA) held its 2012 Agricultural Bankers Education Conference. IBA President/CEO Dawn Justice said that it's challenging to draw an overall conclusion from the conference about how agriculture will intersect with the overall economy in the near future. "There are a lot of things happening [in the global economy] and 'uncertainty' is still the watch word," said Justice. "There are a lot of 'What if?' scenarios." Justice emphasized that it's important for every farmer to keep up with what's happening in the global market. "That impacts everything. Farmers have to be more sophisticated -- there's a whole lot more to consider than what they had to in the past."

Speakers at the conference included:

  • Dr. David Kohl, Professor Emeritus, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech
  • J. Scott Vernon, Ph.D., professor of agricultural education and communication at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • Jerry Trebesch, a former agricultural banker with extensive experience in the state of Idaho
  • John Blanchfield, director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking, American Bankers Association (ABA)

Dr. Vernon spoke about different generational viewpoints and the impact that will have on the succession of family farms.

"That is a concern: Where are the future farmers coming from?" said Justice.

Mike Roth of Si-Ellen Farms spoke as a dairy commodity panel representative. After talking about the history of his business, he pointed out that the high cost of inputs is an ongoing challenge for the region's dairy farmers, especially for the smaller ones that can't achieve economy of scale.


Justice added that more processing facilities are needed to utilize the milk produced by Idaho dairymen, such as the plant being built in Twin Falls by yogurt company Chobani, Inc.

When asked if she had any general agricultural banking advice to offer readers, Justice shared a document put out by the ABA titled "A Hot Real Estate Market Makes Farmland Buying Decisions Harder."

Click here to read the tip sheet.

Justice said, "It's got some great advice. It's compiled by a group of bankers who have seen the good, the bad and the ugly." PD