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U of I brings back in-person ag outlook seminar

By John O’Connell

University of Idaho

University of Idaho is resurrecting an event that consistently drew large crowds prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, featuring experts who assess the state’s agricultural landscape and offer an outlook for the year to come.  

The Idaho Ag Outlook Seminar was last hosted in person in 2019 and was delivered in an online format during 2021 and 2022. Brett Wilder, a UI Extension agricultural economist, has organized four in-person sessions scheduled for mid-December in each region of the state.

Sessions are scheduled for:

Tuesday, Dec. 12 at the Bonneville County Fairgrounds in Idaho Falls,

Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls,

Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Idaho Department of Fish and Game office in Nampa, and

Tuesday, Dec. 19 at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston

Registration is $30 per person, and booklets with information from the presentations will be available to order for $20 each following the sessions. Lunch is included. Check-in will begin at 8 a.m., and seminars will start at 9 a.m. and should conclude by 3 p.m. local time.

Several producers, media members and even some congressional staff members have already registered for the various sessions.

“I had a lot of feedback from folks who were involved. It was a good event and something people enjoyed going to,” Wilder said. “It’s valuable for agricultural producers to have an idea of what the year looked like on a bigger scale than their own operation and what to expect moving forward.”

The unveiling of the annual UI Extension report estimating the gross income and net farm income of Idaho agriculture for the year that’s ending has been a highlight of past seminars.

Wilder, who will present that eagerly anticipated data during the upcoming seminar, noted 2022’s gross income estimates for Idaho agriculture proved to be extremely accurate, though their estimates of input costs came in high.

“In 2022 we had all-time high numbers for these commodities, and we were within a percentage or so with our estimates,” Wilder said. “It’s a good benchmark number for how the agriculture industry is doing in the state of Idaho.”

Wilder will also give the beef outlook presentation. Dustin Winston, a top dairy analyst in the Northwest with the financial services franchise StoneX Group Inc., will present the dairy outlook.

Xiaoxue “Rita” Du, an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology (AERS), and Tyler Hand, a graduate student in the department, will present on global trade and U.S. macro trends.

Xiaoli Etienne, an associate professor in AERS and Idaho Wheat Commission Endowed Chair in Commodity Risk Management, will present about input cost trends. Norm Ruhoff, a clinical assistant professor in AERS, will give a grain outlook in Lewiston.

Troy Lindquist, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Russell Qualls, the state’s climatologist, will cover presentations on weather patterns.

UI Extension educators Joseph Sagers and Doug Finkelnburg will cover hay presentations. UI Extension agricultural economist Patrick Hatzenbuehler will give an outlook for potatoes, and Greg Latta, an associate professor of forest economics in the College of Natural Resources and director of the Policy Analysis Group, will cover forestry in Lewiston.

Arrangements for additional speakers to cover water, grains and pulse crops are still being finalized.

Wilder plans to distribute surveys to participants inquiring about their input costs and land lease rates. The responses will be used in drafting Extension publications on both topics.

Wilder will offer those who complete the survey the opportunity to win door prizes.

“Those are the two most commonly asked about publications,” he said. “If we can have a captive audience around the state to collect that information, then we’ll do that.”