National Agricultural Bankers Conference
This week I was in St. Louis to address the 49th Annual Agricultural Bankers Conference. This was my 24th consecutive year.

The mood of the Ag Bankers was cautious, waiting to see what was going to happen to the Farm Bill. Most bankers indicated that their profit margins were declining because of lower interest rates and intense competition.

Here are a few interesting points that I observed at the conference by attending other sessions:

  • Bankers indicated that women were becoming a more critical element in the financial decision making process on farms.

  • Two speakers on South American agriculture literally stunned the Bankers’ audience as they described the potential competition from the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Community banks were competitive by highlighting the staff and personnel and close customer relationship.

  • Nearly 25% of the audience was there for their first year, indicating a new generation of ag bankers.

Another Seminar
I stopped in Bruning, NE, population 302, to do a seminar. Attendance was 160 people, so that was half the size of the town! The seminar was part of the Farmers and Ranchers College.

I visited the soybean processing mill in Bruning, a value-added business. Interesting to me is how a small town and two individuals (from Miami and Chicago) have assembled as a team to provide a value-added service that markets soybean meal, feeds, and oil throughout the U.S. and Mexico. They have even been highlighted in the Wall Street Journal.

Someone at the Ag Bankers Conference asked me where are all the value-added ag business successes. Well, they are scattered throughout the country and Canada. And if I am fortunate, my travels and contacts allow me to see them first-hand. These businesses are slowly emerging and are analogous to base hits rather than home runs.

Down on the Farm
My 16-year-old, Kyle, is now driving. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It depends. We no longer have to taxi him into town. But we do watch which friends he loads up. And one rule we have in our household is that no car or truck is used exclusively by one person in the family. That way each has to take responsibility for all vehicles. And we don’t fight over cars. But since my truck smells like manure, it usually is there waiting for me.

Sports Perspective
The Nebraska folks are worried about the Colorado Buffaloes!

Did you see the Skins game? Talk about a change in attitude. I saw the controversial plays and ref calls. But doesn’t every game have those? Let’s see what happens. Injuries can take their toll on a team.

Next week, I think I will go to Canada see what is ticking on the other side of the border.

My e-mail address is: sullylab@vt.edu

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist at Virginia Tech. He recently completed a sabbatical working with the Royal Bank of Canada. He is now back at Virginia Tech with his academic appointment, which is teaching, extension, and applied research.

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.

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