Great Bend Tribune
Published December 31, 2017
Tomorrow marks the start of a new year, a frigid start to say the least. Last week’s column reviewed some of the major stories in Kansas agriculture and agriculture in general. This week’s piece briefly discusses the possible stories for 2018. And if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that trying to predict what is going to happen is pretty much a wild guess. So what will the major stories of 2018 be in agriculture?
- Trade – as mentioned last week with the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) gone and NAFTA undergoing renegotiation, the export of American Ag exports is up in the air. While Canada and Mexico are huge markets for our goods, just ask Bartlett Grain east of Great Bend where all that wheat is going; China, Japan, South Korea, and other east Asian countries are or have the potential to be significant markets for U.S. foodstuffs. Whatever your thoughts regarding the TPP, it had promised to be quite beneficial for American agriculture. And it pays to pay attention to what is going on in Europe with the Brexit negotiations between the E.U. and the U.K.
- Energy – as energy prices go so goes the price of many inputs in agriculture. What will the RFS for ethanol and biodiesel be in the future? The ethanol industry dodged a bullet this year but the pressure is on. Fuel prices are projected to be higher in 2018 and that effects the price of everything from the manufacture of nitrogen fertilizers to the cost of fueling equipment and moving goods.
- Topeka – For Kansans in general and for producers in particular, how the Legislature and Governor (Brownback or Colyer) address the Kansas Supreme Court ruling regarding education funding can have major and minor ripples across the state from property taxes to the funding of state agencies such as the KDA and KDHE.
- Year two of cotton and soybean genetics resistant to dicamba and 2,4-D. 2017 was a challenge to stay the least. Will the response so far from industry and regulatory agencies be sufficient to address the concerns? Time will tell. And along with this the whole area, dealing with herbicide resistant weeds will be a continued focus.
- The next Farm Bill – work is progressing and this is most often a bipartisan effort. Negotiators say things are progressing. A possible snag is the cuts that the just passed tax reform bill may trigger and the interest on the part of many GOP House and Senate members to cut entitlement programs such as SNAP and WIC which are tied to the Farm Bills. In any case, producers should expect less not more help.
- Finally the weather is always a major story. Right now cold weather is the story for much of the country with moisture levels all over the place. Kansas is dry, very dry in many places but we all know that can change in a heartbeat. The long-term forecast isn’t terribly hopeful. And along with the dry, is the risk of wildfires.
As always there are many stories and this is just a sample. Happy New Year and please all be responsible and safe.