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WEST LAFAYETTE, IN -- Farmers and agribusiness professionals can learn about the agricultural business climate, strategies to successfully grow their operations and implications for agricultural producers of changing consumer demand July 7-8 at Purdue University's annual Top Farmer Conference.

Farm management experts and agricultural economists from Purdue, the University of Illinois, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and EMI Analytics will guide participants to analyze financial challenges and opportunities for their operations.

"There has been a major shift in agriculture's financial climate over the last couple of years, and margins have significantly tightened - especially in the crops sector," said Jim Mintert, Purdue agricultural economics professor and director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture. "We've developed this year's conference with that in mind. We want producers and agribusiness professionals alike to really understand the current economic climate and identify strategies that will position their operations for future growth and success."

The conference, in its 49th year, will be at Purdue's Beck Agricultural Center, 4540 U.S. 52, West Lafayette. It starts with registration at 7:30 a.m. on July 7 and concludes by 4 p.m. on July 8.

Session topics and presenters:

• "The Business Climate: Current Perceptions and an Outline for the Future," Nathan Kauffman, assistant vice president and lead expert in agricultural economics for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; Phil Abbott, Purdue professor of agricultural economics whose research focuses on agricultural trade; and Steve Meyer, vice president, pork analysis for EMI Analytics and co-author of the Daily Livestock Report. A question-and-answer panel discussion will follow.

• "10 Questions for Growth," Michael Boehlje, Purdue distinguished professor of agricultural economics and agricultural finance and management expert.

• "Farmland Values and Performance of Farmland Investments," Bruce Sherrick, University of Illinois professor of agricultural and consumer economics, and director of the TIAA-CREF Center for Farmland Research, and Craig Dobbins, Purdue professor of agricultural economics whose research focuses on farmland values and cash rent trends.

• "Brewing Up and Evaluating Strategic Alternatives for a Family Farm," Allan Gray, Purdue professor of agricultural economics and director of theCenter for Food and Agricultural Business, and David Widmar, senior research associate for the Center for Commercial Agriculture.

• "Implications of Changing Consumer Demand for Today's Agricultural Producers," Nicole Olynk Widmar, Purdue associate professor of agricultural economics whose research focuses on the responses of agricultural producers to changing consumer demand for production process attributes.

Keynote speaker is Bruce Vincent, a third-generation logger from Montana who has testified before Congress on natural resources issues and appeared on several news programs, including "60 Minutes." He will present "The Conflict Industry and You."

"Bruce's experience in the forestry industry provides him with a unique perspective on the challenges facing Midwest farmers," Mintert said.

Included in the conference agenda is a farmer panel focused on opportunities to grow the farm business. Attendees also will have opportunities to network with peers and speakers.

Learn more and register at http://ag.purdue.edu/commercialag/topfarmer. Registration is $300 per person through June 24. After that, it increases to $350 per person. For more information, contact Aissa Good, managing director and business development manager for the Center for Commercial Agriculture, at aissa@purdue.edu or 765-496-3884.

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