Navigating a challenging farm economy

A meeting on March 11, 2019 in Cass County will focus on helping farmers identify farm management tools that can help them weather the current economic downturn in agriculture.

Two people in a barn looking at reports

Cash grain profit margins continue to be tight as the US farm economy enters 2019 with the expectation that it may be a fifth consecutive year of low or negative profit levels.  According to Jim Hilker, MSU Extension Professor and Extension Marketing Economist, the 2019 growing season may present some opportunities for farms as prices work to return to pre-tariff trade levels.  Farmers know that in order to take advantage of these opportunities, detailed preparation and planning are crucial. 

This means focusing on what they can control or better manage in order to improve their farm’s sustainability.  Farm economists are recommending that the best and most accurate preparation can be done by understanding the farm’s “true” cost of production.  Discovering unknown, often overlooked areas of weakness that may have hindered past successes on the farm is critical.  It is just as important to bring to light areas of strength that managers can use to capitalize on unrealized opportunities within their business.  Awareness of a farm’s cost of production assists managers in making better, well-informed decisions and help in identifying the right tools or answers for the coming year.  Whether those answers include utilizing options in grain marketing, crop insurance, lender financing, or other basic farm finance tools, there are many avenues that a farm operation can follow when weathering a challenging farm economy.

Michigan State University Extension will be hosting a meeting entitled “Tools to Navigate a Challenging Farm Economy” to provide farmers with some answers and food for thought to address these pressing economic challenges.  The meeting will be held on Monday, March 11, from 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. in the banquet hall of the First Church of God (21083 Spencer Rd, Cassopolis, MI).  Among the topics addressed will be:

  • Upcoming Legislation Impacting Farmers in 2019 (Rep. Aaron Miller, District 59)
  • Finding Your Farm’s “True” Cost of Production (Jon LaPorte, MSU Extension)
  • Grain Marketing and Effective Strategies (Charles Stutesman, Brock Associates)
  • Pairing Crop Insurance Options with Marketing Strategies (David Colville, Owner/Agent, Colville Insurance Agency)
  • Farm Financing – Know Your Options & Their Uses (Sara Trattles, Greenstone Farm Credit Services)

There is no cost to attend, but registration is required as seating is limited.  Call the Cass County Extension office (269-445-4438) to reserve your seat.  Contact Jon LaPorte ( or 269-445-4438) or Eric Anderson ( or 269-467-5510) for more information.

Did you find this article useful?