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The financial health of Wisconsin’s farms and agricultural businesses, with a special focus on consolidation in the state’s dairy industry, are topics for the upcoming Wisconsin Agricultural Outlook Forum, which will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 29 on the UW–Madison campus.

The forum features both academic and business leaders and is sponsored by the UW–Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), UW–Madison Division of Extension, and several companies and organizations.

One of the presenters, Paul Mitchell, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, will share his insights and prediction on what Wisconsin farmers and the state's agricultural economy expect in the coming year.

In an interview with Lorre Kolb, Mitchell believes farmers can expect another tight year ahead.

"We’ll get price expectations from the markets and from the experts, but in general, we’re expecting tight margins given the costs we’ve seen and what the predictions are for prices, so I’m anticipating another tight year," Mitchell said. "In terms of margins, some people will be looking at negative margins and having difficulty cash flowing loans."

Farmers also wonder what the newly signed Farm Bill will hold in store for them.

"Well it passed in this context of farm income has been down for the past several years in a row and so we’re going to see changes in the programs to help improve commodity support for farmers," said Mitchell, who will speak on some of the changes ahead in the Farm Bill and what that means for crop producers, focusing on corn and soybean. "There’s been some big changes in terms of the way the programs function, improvements really to make them better for farmers to help provide support in these years of tight margins that we’ve come through, low income and at least another year it looks like it’s going to be the same."

Mark Stephenson, director of the UW–Madison Center for Dairy Profitability will share his views on the dairy programs and changes spelled out in the Farm Bill.

After lunch, the forum will focus on consolidation in the dairy industry, beginning with a presentation by agricultural economist Marin Bozic on industry trends that will provide context about what’s happening in Wisconsin and across the nation.

Tessa Conroy, Economic Development Specialist and Assistant Professor at the UW-Madison will also speak.

"(Conroy) will be covering the Wisconsin economy broadly, not just the agricultural economy, but where we as a state overall are doing. So we’ll kind of see the agricultural focus as well as some general trends that affect agriculture from the general economy," Mitchell said.

Pete Kappelman, co-owner of Meadow Brook Dairy Farms and 2018 World Dairy Expo Dairyman of the Year, will provide a farmer’s perspective on what he and others have been experiencing and what he sees happening in the future.

Following the presentations, a panel of dairy industry experts will share their unique perspectives on the ongoing trend of consolidation in Wisconsin from their various positions in the dairy supply chain. Panelists will include Bill Curley of Blimling and Associates, a dairy consulting and publications firm based in Madison, Wisconsin; and Sue Taylor of Leprino Foods, a global producer and supplier of mozzarella cheese and dairy nutrition products based in Denver, Colorado.

Stephenson will wrap up the afternoon by providing an update on the Wisconsin Dairy Task Force 2.0, the group assembled in summer 2018 to study and make recommendations on actions needed to maintain a viable and profitable dairy industry in the state. Stephenson is chair of the task force.

The 2019 forum runs from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Jan 29 and is followed by a reception until 5:00 p.m., in Varsity Hall in Union South, located at 1308 West Dayton Street, Madison.

Forum registration is open now through Jan. 25. The $20 registration fee covers both lunch and the forum, and has been subsidized through the support of event sponsors. A reserved parking spot can be purchased separately for $15.00.

To register, view the agenda and access the parking form, visit: https://renk.aae.wisc.edu/ag-outlook-forum/. For more information, contact Jeremy Beach at jpbeach@wisc.edu or (608) 262-9485.

 

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