The excitement of a new year and a presidential election has brought the markets up and down, so it's sensible to wonder what this year will bring to our farmers. I hope with changing technology, farmers can achieve better yields and prices. Agricultural technologies have advanced rapidly in the second half of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century, changing the way farmers work indefinitely.
- Livestock genetics & breeding
- Crop genetics & pest management
- Labor and mechanization
Changing farming practices can have both positive and negative effects. For example, the introduction of genetically engineered (GE) seeds, wider adoption of irrigation, and growth in contract sales have allowed farm operators to diminish the intensity of soil tillage, reduce weather-related risks, lower production costs through increased specialization, and mitigate price risk. However, widespread adoption of GE plants is viewed with concern by some consumers, by farmers experiencing weed resistance to herbicides, and by nearby farmers specializing in organic crop production. Wider adoption of irrigation can reduce the availability of water for other uses and has implications for pesticide and fertilizer runoff. Increased contracting can leave some farmers worried about price-fixing and can increase their risk if the contractor defaults. Moreover, the geographic consolidation of larger livestock operations has heightened localized concerns about the handling of manure and its environmental consequences.
Just like farming technology changing for the better, Ergo Bank is not only keeping up with technology but is dedicated to being a leader in technology to better serve our existing and new customers.
I look forward to "seeing you" at the virtual WBA Agricultural Bankers Conference on April 7-8 where we can join together to connect and keep ourselves updated and serve as a resource for our farmers.
Paul Curran is vice president of commercial and ag lending with Ergo Bank in Fox Lake and serves on the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section board.