SIKESTON - A series of 14 meetings across the state during March will kick off in Sikeston as economists from the University of Missouri present an "Outlook for Missouri Agriculture, 2004."
Members of the MU Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) will discuss prices and policy for the coming year.
The meetings, starting March 8, follow the presentation of the FAPRI 10-year baseline to the U.S. Congress. The March 8 meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Clinton Building at the Sikeston Sports Complex.
"We will give heavy emphasis on projected risk and returns on Missouri farms for the coming year," said Brent Carpenter, FAPRI farm analyst. "We'll also give insight into the changing agricultural policies being considered in Washington, D.C."
The FAPRI team will often give two sessions a day as they cover the state with their most recent information. Local arrangements will be made by regional MU extension business specialists.
"This will be the biggest road show we've ever put on," said Abner Womack, co-director of FAPRI. "Mainly, we'll have good news to share with crop producers. Livestock producers will face lower short-term prices. "Missouri farmers will have some opportunities they have not seen in awhile."
Carpenter agreed, "The economics in 2003 were generally a lot better than in 2002.
"We'll also talk about risks, risk management and changing markets," Carpenter said. "Changes around the world now have a direct impact back to Missouri farms."
FAPRI provides an annual economic outlook to Congress. This independent analysis is used to study the impact of proposed farm legislation.
Economic impact, from the national level down to the farm, can be forecast from the 10-year baseline.
"Farmers have access to a lot of price outlook information, but it's the integration of markets and policy that impacts the future of the farm," Carpenter said. "Our models incorporate both."
By walking the halls of Congress, FAPRI economists keep abreast of potential policy changes being discussed.
"Discussions are beginning to center on cuts in agricultural spending if efforts are made to reduce the federal budget deficit," Carpenter said. "All farm programs will be on the table if agriculture faces budget cuts."
FAPRI will have separate outlooks for each commodity, with the meeting topics adjusted for each region. "Dairy farmers in Southwest Missouri will not hear the same presentation as Bootheel farmers."
MU FAPRI and a similar think tank at Iowa State University maintain computer models of the U.S. agricultural economy and international
The analysts promise to leave time to answer questions at each location to meet regional concerns.
For more information about the March 8 Sikeston meeting contact David Reinbott at 573-545-3516.
The other dates and towns are:
March 8, Concordia;
March 9, Jackson, Mountain Grove and Alton
March 11, Mount Vernon and Nevada
March 15, Chillicothe
March 16, Kirksville;
March 17, Shelbyville.