Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Illinois Farm Bureau's Young Leaders hear how demand will
keep prices high, yet speaking out is the true investment in
Illinois Farm Bureau's
Young Leaders (YL) are emerging during the "golden age of
agriculture," according to economist and Director of The Heartland
Institute in Chicago Dr. Jay Lehr. At the IFB Young Leader
Conference this weekend, Lehr told 450 attendees that this is the
best time ever in the history of agriculture.
Jay Lehr talks with Landon Frye, Edgar County. (Photo by
Predicts Prices Will Remain High
Lehr expects the growing economies of China and India will keep
farm commodity prices at high levels for a long time. "The demand
for better and more food has been huge," he said. "The average meat
intake has increased by 50% since 1990."
Commodity prices will remain volatile, but Lehr believes strong
demand will put a floor under prices. He doesn't envision a time
when corn and soybean prices dip back to their previous historic
averages, and that is good news as the farming community works to
keep young people on the farm.
"I'm confident grain prices will stay up," he said. "They
will not go where they were a decade ago."
Listen to audio from Dr. Lehr
Need to Fill Information Gap
Lehr asked the young men and women in the room to invest in their
future and spend two hours every month talking about farming in a
positive way to their friends, family, neighbors, and yes, even
strangers who aren't involved in agriculture.
"People do not know where food comes from until you tell them,"
he added. "We have two million people in production agriculture in
the U.S. and if every one of them put in two hours a month, we
could turn back agriculture's reputation. The better informed the
public is about agriculture, the longer our Golden Age of
agriculture will be."
YL State Committee Chairman Brent Pollard agreed and also
encouraged Young Leaders to step out of their comfort zone and more
actively engage consumers about agriculture and food production
"Have a 20-second pitch ready for when you run into a consumer,"
Pollard said. "That's about the time you have to make an impression
on them. Let them know that a seed corn sign doesn't mean Monsanto
owns your field, or let them know you take good care of your
Listen to audio from Pollard
Young Leaders Gary Tretter, left, Georgia Henke, Karen Liefer
(holding Catania Henke), and Allen Kasten network at
Connecting with Legislators, Too
Pollard believes Young Leaders also need to unleash their voices
to decision-makers. "We need to reach out to legislators," he said.
"I encourage everyone here to get involved in FB ACT."
FB ACT is
an Illinois Farm Bureau program that encourages members to
build open, working relationships with elected officials. At this
conference, a whopping 45 Young Leaders joined FB
IFB President Philip Nelson enforced the proactive message
during his speech at the YL Conference. "We're depending on you
(Young Leaders to carry on the legacy of farming and Illinois Farm
Bureau)," he said. "We've got to get more people engaged and tell
(consumers) what we do and how we do it."
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