Some of the brightest minds in agriculture met Dec. 10 in Auburn to share ideas, discuss research and learn more about the current global agricultural outlook.
Alabama Extension partnered with Auburn University’s Department of Crop, Soil and Environmental Sciences to bring a wide variety of speakers to the Alabama Row Crops Short Course to share updates with Alabama farmers.
Speakers included the associate administrator of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), a representative from the National Cotton Council, an agricultural lobbyist and many other industry professionals.
Audrey Gamble, an Alabama Extension soil scientist, said the Alabama Row Crops Short Course is in its fifth year and is always working to meet the needs of farmers.
“We try to make the short course different from county and regional winter production meetings by inviting expert speakers from throughout the U.S. to speak on overarching topics in agriculture—whether that be related to crop management, crop markets or policy,” Gamble said. “We were thrilled to have 180 producers in attendance.”
Shep Morris, Jr., a row crop producer in Bullock, Montgomery and Macon counties, says the short course was beneficial.
“I appreciate the expertise from Extension and Auburn, but I also really enjoyed the peer panels,” Morris said. “You can learn a lot from listening to how others do things on their operations.”
Daniel Whitley, the associate administrator of USDA-FAS, gave attendees an in-depth look at the state of the global agricultural market.
“We have an international mission and focus,” Whitley said. “Our goal is to increase U.S. ag exports, but we are also the eyes, ears and voices of American producers as we work in other countries.”
Whitley and his team have the staff and expertise to negotiate foreign trade agreements, including the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), announced early Tuesday.
“Deals like the USMCA will signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. is open for business and ready to negotiate trade deals,” Whitley said.
Crop Short Course
Gamble said the speaker lineup was a result of a great planning committee. The committee worked together to strategize about what farmers need and what would be beneficial.
“A highlight for many of our attendees this year was the update on Global Agricultural Markets and U.S. Trade Policy from Danial Whitley,” Gamble said. “Grower panels for cotton and corn were also a hit. These panels featured producers from different growing regions of the state.”
In addition to the market update, producers heard from a wide array of other speakers. This also included a panel of Alabama farmers from all areas of the state.
Morris said the peer panels help producers see opportunities for improvement that they may not have thought of.
“Farmers should always be looking for ways to improve their farm operations,” he said. “If you stick with the status quo, you’ll be left in the dust.”
Peer panels focused on cotton and peanuts, as well as corn, soybean and wheat.
Gamble said short course organizers are grateful for the continued support that the Alabama Wheat and Feed Grain Committee, the Alabama Cotton Commission and the Alabama Soybean Committee provide for this meeting.
The Alabama Row Crops Short Course is an annual course, held in Auburn, Alabama. For more information, visit www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office.