Perspectives From the Road

Travel on the road provides a glimpse of what is going on in America. Lecturing at conferences in Chicago, St. Louis, Austin and Atlanta and listening to conference attendees can be draining, but energizing as well. Here are a few of my favorites in recent weeks:

Workforce Edge
More than one agricultural producer has volunteered to me recently that their sons and daughters who had grown up with responsibilities on the farm or ranch had a differential advantage in the workplace when seeking employment. Whether it was high level corporate entering positions or blue collar traditional employment, those work ethics and responsibilities learned from being in the farm environment are highly valued by employers. They prefer self-starters who can take a challenge and solve problems. I hope anyone reading this column that becomes discouraged with farming can pick up a flicker of energy from knowing that your children may be gaining life skills that are valuable in most any workplace.

It Could Get Ugly
Forty-three percent of all new mortgages on homes are being made with no money down. Does this sound like the 1970’s in agriculture? Any hiccup in the economy potentially can be devastating to these homeowners who are expecting double-digit appreciation to maintain solvency in the household. This could be an economic train wreck waiting to happen!

The Dutch are Here
Rabobank is definitely on the radar screen. To all you lenders I know reading this column, they are making their presence known. Whether it is Ohio, Austin or Chicago conferences, more of the Rabobank hats are taking the place of Deere hats in the audiences. By the way, many of the conferences I speak at have attendees who represent the more progressive, profitable, sustainable producers and the conferences tend to have Rabobank representation and sponsorship.

United We Stand
Sharing a panel with a recent U.S. representative to the WTO meetings, provided me some interesting perspective. He insisted that in-fighting between U.S commodity groups must stop. He stated that we must find common ground and move forward with focused energy or we will be at a disadvantage in negotiations.

These are just some things I have picked up as I have traveled around the country this winter. Maybe you’ll see me soon in your area!

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

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups.

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

This online exclusive is brought to you by The Corn and Soybean Digest