2021 Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium recap

By Dusty Sonnenberg, CCA, Ohio Field Leader, a project of the Ohio Soybean Council and soybean check-off

After taking a year off due to the pandemic, the only thing better than the food at Der Dutchman in Plain City was the discussion during the 2021 Ohio Grain Farmers Symposium. Farmers and commodity group leaders gathered from across the state to discuss the business of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association (OCWGA) and the Ohio Soybean Association (OSA). Both organizations conducted their respective annual meetings, and a Presidents Leadership Panel discussion was held with OCWGA President Kelly Harsh and OCWGA Executive Director Tadd Nicholson, along with OSA President Ryan Rhoades and OSA Executive Director Kirk Merritt.

One of the featured topics during the Symposium was Tax Policy and American Agriculture in 2022 and the changes that are coming. Jay Truitt, president and CEO of Policy Solutions, a Washington, D.C. based Policy Advisory Group focusing on agricultural, international trade, and tax policy focused on the process going on in Washington. He encouraged farmers and the commodity groups to remain involved in the discussions and interaction with national legislators. 

“There are some proposals in Washington that could cause issues for the farm economy and especially family farmers and ranchers in terms of tax policy proposals. Farmers must engage,” Truitt said. “We have great lobbyists, and they do a really good job, but there is no one that is a better lobbyist than the farmer that has a relationship with the legislators and folks in Washington. There was a time when farmers had a sort of protected status in Washington, but those times are changing, and will change if farmers do not stay actively engaged.”

Supply chain disruption and labor shortages were also topics of discussion at the symposium. Ben Brown, Sr. Research Associate, and Agricultural Economist at the University of Missouri shared an analysis of the status of the supply chain and labor shortage. 

“Supply chain logistics and labor shortages are a combination of a number of things,” Brown said. “The labor force is what concerns me the most as we look for recovery. One of the biggest demographics we have seen leave the workforce is Baby Boomer age workers. Several of them retired early due to a favorable economy with their retirement investments and the strong housing market.”

Inflation is also an issue on Brown’s radar. 

“I was relieved to hear Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell say during a Senate Hearing that they were going to remove the transitionary title off the inflation, and that is a more appropriate title at this point,” Brown said. “Much of what is going on is more macro-economic based with supply chain disruptions, increasing fertilizer prices and interest rate impacts on land prices.”

Grain marketing was a popular topic of discussion during the symposium, with strong grain prices this fall. Ben Brown gave an analysis of the grain markets and some predictions for 2022. 

“Tighter stocks lead to higher prices and more volatility,” Brown said. 

A Chinese deficit in grains combined with the tighter U.S. and global supplies, and the improving ethanol markets and rise of renewable diesel are all factors that contribute to the current prices according to Brown.

As Brown looked to the future he said the focus turns from the 2021 U.S. harvest to market demand and South American weather. Fertilizer prices could impact acreage decisions in 2022. Brown feels that exports may be down slightly due to Brazil and the Ukraine recovering, and grain supplies may be higher leading to lower grain prices with higher ending stocks. 

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