Farmer and ISA president-elect

Brent Swart, ISA president-elect and farmer from Spencer (Photo: Iowa Soybean Association / Joclyn Bushman)

This event will position your farm for success

January 11, 2024 | Kriss Nelson

The ever-changing domestic and international markets represent opportunities and challenges for Iowa soybean farmers.

“There are a lot of issues happening internationally that farmers may not be putting the dots together about what it means for export markets,” says Matt Herman, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) senior director of renewable products marketing.

To provide insight into global and domestic market trends and their impact on a farmer’s return on investment for 2024 and beyond, ISA is hosting the Farm Forward conference on Jan. 30 in Des Moines.

“The Farm Forward event is an exclusive opportunity for Iowa soybean farmers to better understand and navigate the many production and market forces shaping our industry,” says Michael Dolch, ISA senior director of public affairs. “Farmers who attend this event are not just preparing for the next season; they are positioning themselves at the forefront of agricultural innovation and market strategy for years to come.”

Keynote speaker Frank Kelly will set the stage for a day leading to what could affect the future of biofuels, soybean breeding and markets.

Kelly, founder and managing partner of Fulcrum Macro Advisors, will provide insights on geopolitical and U.S. political issues, the economics surrounding those matters and the potential implications for the soybean industry.

“I think the United States is going to be called on more to be a critical supplier to the world,” says Kelly. “As markets are shifting overseas, there are risks to the food supply outside of the U.S., which may pressure farmers to produce more efficiently than they already do. When there are issues with food security — where do you go? I predict you will go to the freest market in the world.”

The conference will entail three panel discussions followed by a question-and-answer session.

“ISA is bringing together an expert lineup of speakers and panelists to explore some of the biggest challenges and opportunities on the horizon, from the evolving biofuels landscape and oilseed crush expansion to emerging soybean breeding techniques and global trade dynamics,” says Dolch.

Bioenergy: past, present and future

Herman will join Greg Northrup, president of Verbio NA Holdings Corp and Doug Struyk, an attorney with Carney and Appleby Law, for a panel about what the future means for biofuels and the state and federal issues that could stand in the way.

“We will sum up what has happened in history, how we got where we are today, where these programs may be going in the future, and what that means for a potential change in commodity demand — going beyond corn and soybeans to be used for energy,” says Herman.

Future of soybean breeding

Will soybean breeders unlock the potential of designer soybeans?

“What are companies doing outside of their normal? Are they starting to engineer traits that could specifically serve the bioenergy market? These are things that are going to be highly valuable in the future but we haven’t had a market for them so far,” says Herman.

The future of soybean breeding — the trends, how they are working to address the current and future market needs will be the second panel of the conference, and will be moderated by ISA Senior Director of Research Christie Wiebbecke.

Farm income and market outlook

Farm margins, planting decisions and a 2024-2027 market outlook with macro and micro drivers will be the theme behind the third panel.

Brent Swart, ISA president-elect and farmer from Spencer in Clay County will moderate a discussion about how farmers can plan for 2024 and beyond. The panel will include a representative from Ever.Ag, an ag-tech solutions and services company for agriculture, food and beverage supply chains and others.

“This is top-tier talent being put in front of farmers,” says Swart. “The marketplace is so complex. Let us put some experts in the room and distill the information so you can make informed business decisions.”

Following the event, all attendees are invited to join ISA’s legislative reception at Curate. Program participants will also receive a ticket to the Iowa Ag Expo, formerly known as the Iowa Power and Farming Show, held at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines on Jan. 31.