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Economists gaze into future at ag outlook meetings

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Written Tuesday, August 23, 2005  

They won't be reading tea leaves, crystal balls or tarot cards but Purdue University agricultural economists will still look the part of fortune-tellers at a series of meetings across Indiana.

The economists will prognosticate on crop and livestock prices, exports, farm policy and related issues during Agricultural Outlook 2006. The 77th annual outlook series, free and open to the public, is scheduled from September through December.

Many of the meetings include a complimentary breakfast, lunch or dinner.

"These meetings will take a look ahead at the year 2006 and what the implications will be for various big picture issues that affect agriculture," said Chris Hurt, Purdue agricultural economist and an outlook series speaker. "We'll cover such topics as international trade, crop sizes, interest rates, the growth of the economy and even individual commodities.

"What we're trying to do is help decision makers in the agricultural sector make better decisions and think strategically about their future. That includes farmers, landowners, lenders and agribusiness managers."

Two issues certain to be of particular interest to farmers are crop prices and rising energy costs, Hurt said. Those issues also are among the hardest to predict, he added.

"Specific price levels of various commodities are very difficult to know a full year ahead of time," Hurt said. "There's some value in thinking about the big drivers, such as energy costs. We'll discuss the influences on the farm sector.

"We have a new renewable fuels standard that's going to promote rapid growth in ethanol production. That has implications not only for our whole energy sector but, especially, for the farm sector. That will mean a lot more corn use. Where is that corn going to come from and who is going to have to cut back on corn they have been getting? What are the implications for acreage, etcetera? Those are questions we'll attempt to answer."

The outlook schedule for September includes meetings in the counties listed below. Call the Purdue Extension contact number for additional information and locations:

* Sept. 12, 6:30 p.m. -- DeKalb County. (260) 925-2562.

* Sept. 13, 7 a.m. -- Boone County. (765) 482-0750.

* Sept. 13, 8 a.m. -- Henry County. (765) 529-5002.

* Sept. 13, 8 a.m. -- Pulaski/Starke counties. (574) 946-3412, (574) 772-9141.

* Sept. 13, 8 a.m. -- Franklin County. (765) 647-3511.

* Sept. 13, 8 a.m. -- Fayette and surrounding counties. (765) 825-8502.

* Sept. 13, 10 a.m. -- Indiana Farmfest, Tipton County. (765) 675-2694.

* Sept. 13, 6:30 p.m. -- Bartholomew County. (812) 379-1665.

* Sept. 14, 7:30 a.m. -- White County, (219) 984-5115.

* Sept. 14, 7:30 a.m. -- Hendricks County. (317) 745-9260.

* Sept. 14, 7:30 a.m. -- Marshall County. (574) 935-8545.

* Sept. 14, 5 p.m. -- Posey County. (812) 838-1331.

* Sept. 14, 7 p.m. -- St. Joseph County. (574) 235-9604.

* Sept. 15, 6:30 a.m. -- Warrick County. (812) 897-6101.

* Sept. 15, 8 a.m. -- Wayne County. (765) 973-9281.

* Sept. 15, 6:30 p.m. -- Decatur County. (812) 663-8388.

* Sept. 16, 6:30 a.m. -- Newton County. (219) 285-8620.

* Sept. 16, 7:30 a.m. -- Clay/Parke counties. (812) 448-9041, (765) 569-3176.

* Sept. 19, 8 a.m. -- Tipton County. (765) 675-2694.

* Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m. -- Rush County. (765) 932-5974.

* Sept. 20, 7:30 a.m. -- Fulton County. (574) 223-3397.

* Sept. 20, 8 a.m. -- Madison County. (765) 641-9514.

* Sept. 20, 7 p.m. -- Shelby County. (317) 392-6460.

November and December meetings will be announced and posted on the Purdue Department of Agricultural Economics Web site at http://www.agecon.purdue.edu/ .

Additional information also is available by calling a county office of Purdue Extension or the toll-free Extension hotline at (888) 398-4636 (EXT-INFO).

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