COLLEGE STATION — Agriculture is playing a new game in the 1990s, and the Texas Agricultural Summit on Finance will help the players understand what they’re up against.
“The rules of the game are changing for two reasons. One is the structure of agriculture itself, and the other is the structure of the financial institutions serving agriculture,” said Dr. Danny Klinefelter, professor of agricultural economics and co-chair of the summit.
Scheduled for May 27 in Austin, the summit will examine how those two factors interact to help farmers and ranchers prepare for the future.
The summit will be held at the Omni Southpark Hotel and costs $75 per person. More information is available from Jessica Oman at (979) 845-8484.
Open to all, the day-long gathering will bring together representatives from the production, finance, research, extension, education and government sectors of agriculture. Klinefelter said a number of topics will be discussed at the summit, which focuses on identifying issues and cooperative approaches participants can take to face those issues.
Among the major topics, he said, will be the new types of risks Texas and U.S. agriculture face.
“The real driving force behind this summit is the expectation of increased risk in production agriculture, and there are at least four major factors there,” Klinefelter said.
“One is the FAIR Act — our most recent farm bill and an indication of the whole trend in farm legislation of the last 10 years, which is taking the safety net out from under farm commodities.”
A second factor includes the North American Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which continue to expand foreign competition, he said.
“And obviously there are opportunities there as well as threats,” he added. “It opens many more markets to us.”
A third major factor is regulatory issues, including environmental regulations, and the fourth is water availability and quality.
All those issues will impact whether agriculture can attract money on a competitive basis, Klinefelter said.
“The people providing the capital have to be concerned about the risk of putting the money out there, so the issue is how agriculture can continue to obtain it,” Klinefelter said. “Just accessing it will be an issue, and obtaining it at a competitive rate given the increased risk in ‘owning’ agriculture is an issue.”
Looking at such issues from the side of both the lender and the producer will help summit participants develop strategies to prepare for the future, Klinefelter said.
Those strategies might also include research and outreach or education programs for institutions like the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station to address, as well as policy issues for state or federal legislatures to address, he said.
“It’s not just how we deal with today’s problems. It’s looking out five or ten years, seeing what kinds of shifts are taking place in the environment so people start to position themselves and be a little better prepared,” Klinefelter said.
“We aren’t going to come up with all the answers, but we’ll raise many of the issues and some possible alternatives to deal with them.”