Kicking off the Livestock , Forage, and Grain Forum on Thursday was a presentation on the new strategic plan for the Indiana corn and soybean checkoffs. Executive Director Jane Ade Stevens says their research looked at the trends in agriculture and how these will impact Hoosier producers. She said, in the future, farmers will be doing more analyzing and less oil changes, “With all the data that farmers have today, the role of the farmer will change. He will need to manage the data about his operation in ways he has never had to before.” She told HAT someone will still need to change the oil in the tractor, but it is not going to be the same person who is managing the data.
Going forward, Stevens said, one of the areas the checkoff will invest in is helping farmers to do more on-farm research, “It may as simple as a group of farmers in one county agreeing on adopting a certain practice and then measuring the results of that practice.” She added the checkoff will work with these growers to provide expertise and to share their results with other growers in the area and around the state. The State Department of Agriculture currently manages an on-farm research network, and the checkoff will work with and help expand this program.
Stevens said volatility will continue to be part of agriculture, from volatile markets to unpredictable weather; and, thus, farmers will have to continue to manage risk, “We are working with the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture, and they have developed a risk management program that any farmer can go to in order to get help with managing risk.” She explained this on-line program will be more than just recommendations on when to sell crops at the right price, but will cover a wide variety of risks including how to diversify, how to pass on the farming operation to the next generation, and many more. “Our hope is that every farmer — here in Indiana and across the nation — can use this program to get help with managing risk in every aspect of their farming operation,” she added.
Stevens told HAT the purpose the checkoff is to benefit farmers, whether that is by market development or producing tools and programs that improve a farmers production and efficiency. This is why the strategic plan was developed to guide the investment of checkoff dollars into areas that will benefit farmers the most. In the next year, the checkoff will direct resources into four areas: market development, production research, farm services and education, and stakeholder communication and education.