Long-term economic prospects bright for agriculture

LANSING, MI--Agriculture has a bright economic future, despite near-term political and policy challenges, Robert Engel, president and CEO of CoBank said at the Michigan Agri-Business Association's 2013 Winter Conference. "Despite the undeniably challenging conditions in the global economy, it's important not to lose sight of the tremendous promise that global economic trends and population growth hold for American agriculture, for American agri-business, for the farmer and for the rancher in this country," said Engel. Growing populations will create increased demand for food and agricultural products. It is estimated that by 2050, the world will need to double its current level of food production to supply a population of more than 9 billion people. Engel had the following advice for agri-businesses that want to position themselves for success in volatile markets: 1. Maintain financial strength and flexibility so that your business can seize new opportunities and deliver exceptional value to customers. 2. Strong, committed leadership is more important than ever when navigating through difficult times. Engel also discussed the increasingly important role of politics in economics and the need for policy certainty. "Political risk now carries the trump card in determining the near and medium term health of our economy," said Engel. "Politics really have come to dominate market outlooks." Engel called on lawmakers to embrace bipartisan and transparent fiscal reform and stressed the necessity of dealing with the issues sooner, rather than passing the burden onto future generations. "Agriculture is a growing sector of the economy, and that growth will only continue as booming populations create more demand for food worldwide," said Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association. "In order for the industry to meet demand, we need the kind of policy certainty that Mr. Engel talked about so that agri-businesses can make the investments today that lay the foundation for growth in the future." Engel is a member of CoBank's Management Executive Committee and the Senior Leadership Team and is responsible for implementing the bank's strategic and business direction. He has more than 25 years of experience in the banking industry and currently serves as vice chairman of the Executive Council of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. CoBank is a national cooperative bank that serves customers, including rural infrastructure providers and agribusiness cooperatives, all over the country along with 29 Farm Credit associations in 23 states. Published: Thu, Jan 24, 2013

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