Kim Anderson, Extension economist and wheat marketing specialist, said wheat prices should remain profitable into 2013. Drought will continue to affect the market even though wheat stocks currently are adequate.

Corn supply will continue to influence wheat, Anderson said. Drought and “the ethanol effect,” will keep pressure on corn supplies. “Corn will have to buy acres and that will keep prices up.”

If corn stocks decline, wheat may move into the feed market.

“If we don’t get corn and beans planted next spring, we could see $10 wheat,” he said.

Anderson quoted one-time colleague Luther Tweeten about the effect government programs have on the wheat market. “He said, ‘policy comes and policy goes, but weather determines prices.’”

Shannon Ferrell, OSU assistant professor of ag economics, discussed changes in agriculture law and the changing population dynamics facing farms and ranches. “The pace of (regulatory) change for farms and other small businesses is changing. Agriculture will face more rules and regulations.”

The economic impact of regulations, he added, is not considered.

Regulatory change also comes in conjunction with changing farm population dynamics. A recent survey shows that 55% of farms in Iowa are owned by “people old enough to retire, 65 years or older.”

He said older farmers are less productive than younger ones.

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“We have to think about how to turn over farms to the next generation,” he said. “We have to manage that transition, and manage it in time for the next generation to learn.”

As the farming population ages, he said, the next generation may be well into middle age by the time they take over farm management. “We have to actively engage the next generation,” he said.

Rising input costs also create hardships for young farmers. Land prices, for instance, have risen steadily since 2003. And recent increased prices for agriculture commodities have been largely offset by increased production costs.

“More young farmers are now embracing a leasing mentality to bridge the expense gap to get into farming,” he said.

The shift to renting or leasing farmland should include educating landowners on the advantages of adopting new production technology. 

Ferrell said change is inevitable and has been for thousands of years. He quoted the Greek philosopher Heracleitus: “Nothing endures but change.”