Recognizing Risk In Global Agriculture

January 5, 2015

In agriculture, record profits are usually fleeting; farm booms are typically followed by farm busts. The recent rebound in agriculture’s profitability, combined with projections of burgeoning global demand for food, fiber, and fuel, suggest the industry has entered a new “golden era.” Could the glint of banner profits in agriculture turn out to be fool’s gold? What are the risks that agriculture could fail to reach its lofty expectations?

The 2011 Agricultural Symposium brought banking and business leaders, government officials, and academics together to explore the risks to agricultural profits in the 21st century. At the symposium, leading agricultural experts discussed how agriculture will balance global food consumption and production and overhaul renewable energy markets before examining agriculture’s ability to weather unexpected downturns and use risk management strategies in volatile markets.

2011 Agricultural Symposium Transcripts and Papers
Transcripts and papers are also available by session. Access them by clicking session title below.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Session 1: Balancing Global Food Consumption and Production
This session examined the risk to agricultural profits from shifts in global food markets. A speaker and industry panel explored global food demand and whether agricultural producers will produce too little or too much to satisfy global appetites. In addition, the speaker and panelists discussed emerging opportunities and risks in global food demand before exploring the risks of imbalanced food supplies.


Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Exports

Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture



Vice President, Economic Policy, Archer Daniels Midland Company

Vice President, Technology Strategy & Development, Monsanto Company

Session 2: Overhauling Renewable Energy Markets
This session explored the opportunities, risks and side effects of renewable energy markets on agriculture. Speakers discussed how shifts in energy demand and production affect agricultural industries. Discussions also focused on the role of subsidies, tariffs and mandates in renewable energy markets and the requirements for a market-driven industry.


Overhauling Renewable Energy Markets
Director, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University

Outlook for U.S. Biofuels

President, The Rapidan Group LLC

Dinner: Monetary Policy and Agriculture 
President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Session 3: Weathering Unexpected Downturns in Agriculture
This session explored the financial health of agriculture and the potential risks to the financial system from an unexpected downturn in agricultural profits. A speaker and panelists discussed whether the balance sheets of farms and agribusinesses are strong enough to weather smaller profits and falling asset values in agriculture. Discussions also explored who is financing the agricultural sector and how the financial system would respond to a weaker farm economy.


Weathering Unexpected Downturns in Agriculture
Department Head, Agricultural and Consumer Economics Department, University of Illinois


Portfolio Manager, Passport Capital

President and Chief Executive Officer, Frontier Farm Credit, Manhattan, Kansas

President and Chief Executive Officer, Bank of Newman Grove and Chairman-Elect ICBA

Session 4: Managing Agricultural Risks
This session described some of the strategies that farmers and agribusinesses have employed to manage emerging risks in the agricultural marketplace. A speaker and panelists described past and current trends in risk management and how the provision of risk management tools has evolved over time. Discussions focused on the balance between government and market-based risk management strategies and their implications on agricultural lending.


Managing Agricultural Risk
Chief Agricultural Economist, Wells Fargo


Agribusiness Banking
Senior Vice President, Ag and Rural Banking Division, Bank of the West, Fresno, California

NZ Agriculture - Deregulation 26 years on
Head of Agribusiness, Bank of New Zealand

Closing Address: 
The closing session summarized the highlights of the conference and discussed the future of agriculture in the 21st century.


Director, Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, Iowa State University

Department Head, Agricultural and Consumer Economics Department, University of Illinois

Chief Agricultural Economist, Wells Fargo

Speaker Biographies

Online Evaluation Form for Symposium Participants

2010 Agricultural Symposium

The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Commitment to Agricultural and Rural Research

With the heavy concentration of agriculture across the Great Plains, research on agricultural enterprises and rural economic issues has been a long-standing area of expertise for our Bank. Economists publish a wide variety of research and analysis on agricultural and rural issues.

  • The Main Street Economist
    This bi-monthly electronic newsletter provides analysis on economic opportunities and challenges facing agricultural sectors and rural areas in the Tenth District and throughout the nation.
  • Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions 
    The Bank’s quarterly survey of agricultural bankers provides current indicators of the financial performance of Tenth District agriculture. The accumulated results also help trace longer term trends. Survey results summarize several indicators of farm financial conditions, including farmland values, interest rates on farm loans, credit supply and demand, and farm income.
  • Agricultural Finance Databook 
    The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City oversees this quarterly compilation of national and regional agricultural finance data. Each release includes national data on term lending to farmers, quarterly Call Report data on national agricultural lending and agricultural bank failures, and data on agricultural land values and credit conditions from quarterly Federal Reserve Bank surveys. A publication summarizing the data is also produced. 
  • Economic Review 
    The Economic Review is a quarterly research publication with articles by Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City staff on issues of relevance to the Federal Reserve. Areas of focus include macroeconomics and monetary policy, agricultural and rural economic issues, regional and international economics, banking, financial markets and payments systems.
  • TEN Magazine
    This quarterly magazine for business and banking leaders highlights the Bank’s research, events and programs, and frequently focuses on agricultural and rural issues.

The District's agricultural and rural research is based out of its branch office in Omaha, Nebraska. Economists are available to speak on a variety of issues affecting farms and rural areas with organizations and the news media.

For speaking inquiries, please e-mail To receive notification of new research and publications on agricultural and rural issues, sign up for e-mail updates on this website.