Agricultural lenders and suppliers, producers and policymakers grow nervous when commodity prices, input costs, farmland values and lease rates become volatile, according to Melissa O’Rourke, farm and agribusiness management specialist for Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach.
“Add in weather variables and there is plenty of excitement to manage for the 2017 farming year,” she said
That’s why O’Rourke is recommending producers and ag professionals attend a Pro-Ag Outlook Forum Friday, Dec. 9, in Decorah.
“Iowa State University agricultural economists cautioned farmers to be prepared for a downturn in commodity values and land,” O’Rourke said. “Especially in light of these continuing conditions, we’re offering opportunities for producers and ag business professionals to get updated information to help make decisions that need to be made during the post-harvest period.”
The forum begins at 9:30 a.m. in the meeting room at Pinter’s Greenhouse located off Highway 9 east of Decorah.
“The Decorah location provides a centralized venue in Northeast Iowa for Winneshiek and surrounding counties,” she said.

The opening speaker is Dr. Lee Schulz, ISU livestock marketing analyst. Schulz will address the livestock situation, reviewing the profit potential and survival techniques in the livestock sector. Schulz will be returning from an international trade mission and will share information focusing on volatile beef and pork prices driven by demand and world economy factors, including exports, herd size and feed costs.
Schulz specializes in livestock economics, agricultural marketing and risk management and has expertise in topics including fed cattle trade, feeder cattle pricing, meat demand and price risk management and analysis. His research on a host of livestock economic issues has resulted in multiple publications and numerous outreach contributions.
Schulz grew up on a cow-calf farm in central Wisconsin. He obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and holds a doctorate degree in agricultural economics from Kansas State University as well as master of science degree in agricultural economics from Michigan State University.
Dr. Wendong Zhang will share the latest research on Iowa Land Values and the changing tenure and ownership of Iowa farmland. Zhang is an applied economist and extension farm management specialist and is the leading researcher of the Iowa Land Value Survey, the Iowa Farmland Ownership and Tenure Survey, as well as the ISU Soil Management and Land Valuation Conference. Zhang received his doctorate degree in agricultural, environmental and development economics from the Ohio State University in July 2015.

O’Rourke will present a short overview on the trends in farmland rental rates and share resources for following these trends.
“I continue to get calls from both producers and owners with questions about cash rent arrangements and related land value trends,” O’Rourke said. “I’ll give a brief overview of what we’re seeing and believe the trends are for 2017.”
The forum features a keynote presentation by Dr. Chad Hart from the Department of Agricultural Economics at ISU. As uncertainty abounds in the crop markets with questions about crop size and global demand, Hart will discuss the cyclical nature of the markets including the factors shaping the markets and the keys to watch as farmers market their grain over the coming year.
Prior to joining the Department of Economics at ISU, Hart was the U.S. Policy and Insurance Analyst with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) and a scientist with the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD) at ISU. His projections and outlooks are sought after by agriculture professionals across Iowa and the nation.
The forums last two and a half hours and the cost to attend is $20 per person if pre-registered. Walk-in registration is $25.
Advance registration is recommended by calling the ISU Extension and Outreach office in Winneshiek County (Decorah) at 563-382-2949.
For more information, visit the Winneshiek County ISU Extension website at or the ISU Ag Decision Maker website at