Farmers have continued to find new ways of producing agricultural commodities. For many years, the adoption of new technologies and modernized farming practices have allowed producers across the world to generate more output with their available resources. These far-reaching gains in productivity have been crucial in satisfying the needs of a growing population. Moreover, despite concerns about slower productivity growth in other sectors of the global economy and unprecedented challenges from the pandemic of the past year, productivity in agriculture has continued to increase in many regions and across numerous commodity groups.

The 2021 Agricultural Symposium, “The Roots of Agricultural Productivity Growth” explored the key drivers of the persistent growth in agricultural productivity, linkages to other industries, and environmental considerations. The topic was originally planned for 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic. Disruptions connected to the pandemic and wide fluctuations in agricultural markets have underscored the importance of further research and discussion surrounding productivity, and the vulnerabilities of production, when assessing longer-term conditions in agriculture and related industries.

A Welcome Message from Kansas City Fed President and CEO Esther George


PDF2021 Agricultural Symposium Program

2021 Agricultural Symposium Videos (also available by session below)

Agricultural Symposium Research
Read the leading research on this year's topic of agricultural productivity.

Ag Symposium Snapshots
These stories dive into the topic of agricultural productivity with real-world connections.


Day 1:

Welcoming Remarks

External LinkVideo

external Nathan Kauffman
| Host Vice President, Economist and Omaha Branch Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Session 1: The Drivers of Agricultural Productivity Growth

This session explored the overarching factors behind agricultural productivity growth, barriers to growth, and which inputs are generating the strongest gains.

Session 1 Materials
Ag Symposium Snapshot: Research drives long-term ag productivity gains
Ag Symposium Research Article: PDFThe Drivers of U.S. Agricultural Productivity Growth
PDFSession 1 Presentation
External LinkSession 1 Video

Philip Pardey
| Speaker Professor and Director, International Science and Technology Practice and Policy (InSTePP) Center, University of Minnesota
Keith Fuglie
| Discussant Economist, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Larkin Martin
| Panelist Chief Executive Officer, Martin Farm
Kimberly Ratcliff
| Panelist Manager, Caney Creek Ranch and Owner, Farm to Freezer Meat Company
external Cortney Cowley
| Moderator Economist, Regional Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Session 2: The Role of Technology and Data

This session discussed how technology and the use of data will affect future prospects of agricultural productivity growth.

Session 2 Materials
Ag Symposium Snapshot: Digital agriculture boosts productivity, profitability
Ag Symposium Research Article: PDFInteracting with the Next Wave of Farm Operators: Digital Agriculture and Potential Financial Implications
PDFSession 2 Presentation
External LinkSession 2 Video

Terry Griffin
| Speaker Associate Professor and Cropping Systems Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University
Gregory Graff
| Discussant Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University
John Raines
| Panelist Chief Commercial Officer, The Climate Corporation
Deanna Kovar
| Panelist Vice President, Production and Precision Ag Production Systems, Deere & Company
external Alison Felix
| Moderator Senior Policy Advisor, Economic Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Keynote Address


External LinkVideo

external Esther L. George
| Speaker President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Day 2:

Keynote Address

External LinkVideo

Ertharin Cousin
| Speaker Distinguished Fellow of Global Food and Agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment

Session 3: Supply Chain Spillovers

This session explored the ways in which agricultural productivity affects, or is affected by, businesses in other segments of the agricultural supply chain.

Session 3 Materials
Ag Symposium Snapshot: Farm production a key part of ag supply chains
Ag Symposium Research Article: PDFAn Empirical Investigation of Productivity Spillovers along the Agricultural Supply Chain
PDFSession 3 Presentation
External LinkSession 3 Video

Sergio Lence
| Speaker Professor and Marlin Cole Chair of International Agricultural Economics, Iowa State University
Heidi Schweizer
| Discussant Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
Jim Pillen
| Panelist Founder and Owner, Pillen Family Farms/DNA Genetics
Seth Post
| Panelist Regional General Manager, CGB Enterprises
Chad Wilkerson
| Moderator Vice President, Economist and Oklahoma City Branch Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Session 4: Environmental Linkages

This session discussed the linkages between environmental conditions and agricultural productivity, and implications for food security.

Session 4 Materials
Ag Symposium Snapshot: Environment poses risks to future ag production
Ag Symposium Research Article: PDFEnvironmental Drivers of Agricultural Productivity Growth and Socioeconomic Spillovers
PDFSession 4 Presentation
External LinkSession 4 Video

Wolfram Schlenker
| Speaker Professor, Columbia University
William Martin
| Discussant Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI
Julie Borlaug
| Panelist Vice President, Inari Ag
Gabe Gusmini
| Panelist Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, The Plant Pathways Company, Inc.
external Nicholas Sly
| Moderator Assistant Vice President and Denver Branch Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Concluding Discussion

External LinkVideo

external Nathan Kauffman
| Host Vice President, Economist and Omaha Branch Executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City