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The Next Generation, Coverage of 2013 Conference

February 27, 2013

by Julie Douglas, Ed Clark, and Sara Schafer

Young farmers and ranchers gain business skills, marketing insight

The 2013 Tomorrow’s Top Producer conference was filled with speakers and information to provide farmers age 35 and younger the skills needed to grow their business, marketing and technology skills. More than 150 producers gathered in Chicago on the eve of the Top Producer Seminar to network and hear from leading industry experts.

Joanna Carraway was selected as the 2013 Tomorrow’s Top Producer Horizon Award winner. A native Missouri farm girl, she is now responsible for record keeping, financial goals, equipment operation, employee relations and crop management decisions for her multi-generation operation in Murray, Ky. Read more about Carraway on page 18.  —By Sara Schafer

Be Leery of Investing in Land

Even though farmland value is expected to continue upward, at least for the short-term, that’s not necessarily where young farmers should invest their capital, explained Brent Gloy, a Purdue University ag economist.

"A great deal of pressure is on land values because incomes are up and interest rates are down," he said. This has been beneficial, but it can’t continue to fuel the fire for farmland values, long-term, Gloy said.

Pay attention to the Federal Reserve. "In the 1970s and 1980s, interest rates went up while capitalization rates went down," he noted. "When treasury bonds start going in the opposite direction, we need to be concerned."

Farmland values are pressured when incomes increase or land values fall. "Today people aren’t valuing farms based on income or prices, but what they think it will be worth in the future," Gloy said.

Farmers must be good risk managers. "It’s not risk when you make $100 to $450 of profit per acre," he said, asking young farmers to look at how they manage costs. Consider non-land capital investments, he encourages.

"You have the power of time and compounding working to your advantage," Gloy said. "Your capital will grow with time. Invest in operational excellence. This investment pays off no matter when you make it."

Gloy also advised young producers to build their management capacity, build a good understanding of the economics of your business, build relationships and invest in assets that have a high return. —Julie Douglas

Charts Offer Quick Read of Market Trends

The philosophy behind chart reading or technical analysis is simple: Past price trends are indicative of the future. But fundamentals still matter, said Ashley Gulke Leavitt, a market analyst for The Gulke Group.

"USDA reports inevitably move the market," she said. "When you look at a chart, it paints the picture," Leavitt said. "You can choose any time frame to chart, such as daily or weekly. It also allows you to make marketing decisions ahead of time with less emotion."

To begin charting, Leavitt suggested connecting the highs for a downtrend and connecting the lows for an uptrend. The more points that touch a line, the stronger the correlation. Wait for two consecutive closes on the opposite side of a trend line to confirm a change in trend.

In technical analysis, "you look for support and resistance," Leavitt said. —Ed Clark

Understand Your Marketing Toolbox

Using futures and options can be a more conservative marketing strategy than making cash sales. "Grain in the bin is speculating," said Brian Grete, Pro Farmer senior market analyst.

He stressed the importance of keeping downside price risk balanced with opportunity risk to match market conditions.

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