Farmers and ranchers no doubt have many questions about how the economic recovery will affect the agriculture sector as they prepare for the 2021 growing season, and the next webinar in the MonDak Ag Research Summit will have some timely, and perhaps even some surprising answers.

Giving the keynote speech at the seminar is Montana State University Ag Economic expert Dr. Vincent Smith, an internationally recognized expert on agriculture and international trade policy. Following him will be EGT Elevator Manager Gordon Holt, who will discuss EGT’s plans for the MonDak region.

The discussions will be part of the final webinar for the MonDak Ag Summit series, which is set for 11 a.m. CST, Thursday, March 25. The event, online at https://ndsu.zoom.us/j/91453448686, is free. Pre-registration is not required. The webinar will include a chance to ask questions of each presenter.

Questions about the event may be directed to Beth Redline, 406-433-9427 or beth.redline@usda.gov or Violeta Hobbs at 701-774-4315, violeta.hobbs@ndsu.edu.

The road ahead for agriculture is complex. Not only is the economy recovering from a serious recession, but there is a new federal administration and a new Congress, some of whose members have new ideas for agriculture. Policy changes geared toward climate change mitigation will be a likely focal point for at least the next four years.

Meanwhile, there are many farm groups that want to sustain funding for long-standing programs like federal crop insurance and price support initiatives.

Smith will take a look at the challenges and opportunities this political landscape presents for agriculture, in the context of the current financial state of the farm economy and federal budget deficit.

Smith is professor of economics in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics at Montana State University, and the co-director for the MSU initiative for Regulation and Applied Economic Analysis.

Smith’s research interests are agricultural policy analysis, international trade, and macroeconomics. He has a Ph.D. from North Carolina State University and his masters and undergraduate degrees are from Manchester University in England.

Last year, during the presidential campaign, Smith led a course that compared and contrasted the economic policies of Joe Biden and then president Donald Trump. That series included an indepth look at international trade policies and agriculture, as well as climate change and the environment.

Holt, meanwhile, will provide insight into the entry of EGT into the MonDak region in 2018, when it bought the old Anheuser Busch/InBev malting barley facilities in Sidney.

His presentation is titled, “Soybean Marketing in the MonDak Region.”

“I will touch on our origination and grain marketing capabilities from our facility in Sidney all the way to the export market at our terminal in Longview, WA,” Holt said. “I will also touch on a variety of topics from historical price trends in soybeans in our area to the potential of a new regular rotational and/or primary crop for our area producers.”

Holt is a recent arrival to the region. He grew up on a cattle, poultry and hay farm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains of Georgia. After that, he attended Montana State University where he obtained a degree in Agricultural Business.

The MonDak Ag Research Summit moved to a virtual event this year due to the pandemic. Coordinated by the three agricultural research centers in the MonDak, USDA-ARS, EARC and WREC, the free event is usually a one-day, in-person event — a chance for researchers to rub elbows with producers and growers and exchange ideas. The current plan is to return to the normal format next winter, but, in the meantime, the recording of all six webinars in the series are online at www.ars.usda.gov/pa/nparl/agsummit.

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