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Farmdoc Illinois Economic Summit: Farm management guide in difficult times

URBANA, Ill. – The past year has been a year like no other for Illinois agriculture. While the year started optimistically with talks of a surge in agricultural exports resulting from the trade agreement with China, the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the global economy. Most agricultural prices plummeted, and the government created new ad hoc agricultural aid programs. 

Illinois farm managers for commercial and small-scale operations are invited to the farmdoc 2020 Illinois Farm Economic Summit for some perspective with research-based discussions of trends and projections from University of Illinois experts.

Scott Irwin, Chair of Agricultural Marketing, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics will lead a session on the market outlook for corn and soybeans.

“After the year we’ve just had, it’s hard to know where to start when thinking about the economic outlook for Illinois agriculture in 2021,” Irwin says. “We will do our best to walk people through the big issues that are on the horizon – the grain price and income outlook, new and old policy programs, and the incredible macro response to the COVID pandemic.”

The summit is being presented virtually with the first of five live sessions starting December 1. College of Agricultural and Consumer Economics experts and researchers will discuss where the agriculture sector is heading and how to manage in such unprecedented times. 

The online summit is free and will be presented 11 a.m. to noon CT December 1, 4, 8, 11 and 15. Register in advance at Each session will include a 30-minute presentation followed by a 30-minute Q&A.

  • 2021 Market Outlook for Corn and Soybeans | December 1: In a year stricken by the coronavirus pandemic and an extremely severe economic contraction, corn and soybean prices have risen to levels that seemed impossible just a couple of months ago. A critical question for 2021 is the likelihood of sustaining corn prices near $4 and soybeans near $11. This webinar discusses the 2021 supply and demand outlook for corn and soybeans and the longer-term outlook for trade with China.
  • Grain Farm Income Outlook with Risk and Rental Implications | December 4: Grain farm incomes in 2020 were supported by above-trend yields, higher prices than expected, and several forms of Federal payments. These 2020 incomes serve as a backdrop for 2021 income projections. Sufficient 2021 incomes will be dependent on a combination of above-trend yields and continued federal payments. Risk management will be critical, and several new tools are available this year.
  • Farm Program and Crop Insurance Decisions for 2021 | December 8: The election and enrollment period for the ARC and PLC programs for the 2021 crop year is now open, and decisions must be made by March 15. A new county-based crop insurance program, the Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO), will also be available for crops produced throughout the Midwest. ECO can be used to supplement underlying multi-peril coverage for eligible crops. This session will address these decisions and provide some examples and recommendations for Illinois farm situations.
  • Post-election Farm Policy Outlook | December 11: We consider the short- and medium-run outlook for U.S. farm policy following the 2020 election. The presenters will provide an updated review of three years and four rounds of ad hoc farm payments, including an analysis of payment distribution and program design for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP) and Coronavirus Food Assistance Programs (CFAP). Presenters will discuss what the perceived need for ad hoc assistance says about standing farm programs such as Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) and the implications for future coronavirus-related relief and the 2023 Farm Bill.
  • Farmland Markets and Macro Markets | December 15: Farmland is receiving significantly increased attention by owners and investors seeking to make sense out of the scrambled economic signals of the recent past. This session examines the relative returns to farmland over differing macro-environment periods of the past and suggests the strength of relationship to expect in the future to financial assets, interest rate indexes, and inflation.

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Ryan Batts at Early requests are strongly encouraged to allow sufficient time for meeting access needs.

WRITEREmily Steele, Media Communications Coordinator, Illinois Extension

ABOUT EXTENSION: Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.