Uncertainty, anxiety, apprehension and excitement are all feelings that agriculture producers have on a day-in and day-out basis, and this year there are plenty of all of the above.
A lot of uncertainty is on the minds of agricultural producers and ag leaders as we are all waiting to see the results of when the other shoe drops in the tariffs/retaliation trade wars. Earlier this week it was announced that President Trump would be delaying imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Agreements in principle have been reached with Argentina, Australia and Brazil also on imports of steel and aluminum.
Not knowing the full results of similar tariffs with China and the rest of the world brings with it a lot of anxiety. These anxious moments may only be put aside for a short time as a lot of producers are faced with the more pressing issue of a delayed start to the growing season as winter hung around far too long in some parts of the country.
According to the USDA, as of April 29, only 17% of the corn in the top producing states had been planted, compared with 32% for the same time last year. Soybean plantings are behind last year’s progress, as are every other crop.
The anxiety of a late start to the growing season can quickly turn into the apprehension that an early frost in the fall could turn this into a disastrous growing season as a whole. But things always work out, right?!
Even with all the uncertainty leading to anxiety and apprehension, there is still plenty to be excited about. There’s the thrill in riding the roller coaster known as farming. There are many ups and downs that will be endured, and a lot of hairpin turns that will need to be maneuvered in the market to succeed and survive for another day.
There’s also the excitement that this time of year brings, as college (and possibly some high school) graduates will be coming into the workforce. Check out a slideshow on NationalHogFarmer.com that shares the story of Austin Betzold from Illinois who is using contract hog finishing to enable him to return to the family farm. He is excited about this journey that he is undertaking, and the U.S. swine industry should be equally excited about his story and others like his. As the U.S. pork producer and American farmer, in general, continue to age, we need a youth infusion to continue, or even strengthen, the great tradition known as hog production.
We enjoy hearing about this youth movement and sharing their stories. If you know of someone who fills that bill, feel free to drop me a line; I’d love to hear from you.
Also, cause for excitement this time of year is that we’re just a little over a month away from the 30th version of the World Pork Expo. Check out this slideshow to get the most out of your trip to the world’s largest pork industry-specific event. Always a big part of the World Pork Expo is the National Hog Farmer’s New Product Tour. Check out this slideshow of the nominees for this year’s product tour to whet your appetite before heading to Des Moines, Iowa.
Maybe most of all, head to Des Moines to renew old friendships or start new ones. A certain comradery exists among all producers, veterinarians and allied industry members. There may be a lot of dark clouds on the horizon, but together we can all weather this storm.