Are the current boom times for U.S. farmers the start of a new era or merely a prelude to historical pattern ending in a bust? Answering these and other related questions will be the focus of three programs in December sponsored by University of Illinois Extension.

The 2007 Illinois Farm Economic Summit, to be held Dec. 11 in Effingham, Dec. 12 in Bloomington and Dec. 13 in Sycamore, is the successor to the Farm Income Seminar series held in past years, says Paul Ellinger, U of I Extension farm finance specialist who is organizing the program.

"We've revised and retooled the program to reflect the immediate situation," he noted. "Farm profits are at an all-time high this year. Net farm income for the United States is forecast to be $87.1 billion, up $28.1 billion from 2006 and $29.7 billion above its 10-year average of $57.4 billion.

"A question on everyone's mind is: Will the good times last?"

At each meeting, speakers from U of I Extension's farmdoc team will explore the farm profitability outlook from several perspectives.

"These include the direction of prices, new farm policies, new technology and corn and soybean yields, biofuels, production costs and farm lease trends," says Ellinger. "The format will be fast-paced and allow plenty of time for questions from the audience."

Joining Ellinger on the program will be Darrel Good, Bob Hauser, Scott Irwin, Dale Lattz, Nick Paulson, and Gary Schnitkey, all from the U of I Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics and part of the farmdoc team. Todd Gleason, an Extension communications specialist, will moderate the meeting.

Registration for each location is $50/person and includes all meeting materials, breaks and lunch. Registration at the door will be $55 as space permits. Each meeting begins at 8 a.m. with registration and concludes at 3 p.m.

Online registration is available at farmdoc (http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu) by filling out a registration form and returning it with a check for $50 payable to the University of Illinois. Brochures and other information may be obtained by contacting Sue Esposito at (217) 333-5506. Registration brochures will also be available at the local University of Illinois Extension unit office.

The Effingham meeting will be held at the Keller Convention Center. The Interstate Center is the site of the Bloomington meeting and the Sycamore meeting will be in the Center for Agriculture.