EDITOR’s NOTE: Over the past several months we have talked with agricultural economists and financial experts.  The following story is a summary of their best estimates of what will happen in 2019.

Tim Koch, senior vice president and chief credit officer for Farm Credit Services of America

“There are signs 2019 could look very similar to 2018,” said Koch.

Koch breaks it down into crops and livestock with the impact weather and international trade will have on those two sectors in 2019. In areas where Mother Nature cooperated, crops prospered and the resulting yields made up some of the difference caused by low commodity prices.

“From a crop standpoint we will see a wide variation in overall financial performance,” Koch said.  “But, a lot of the protein sectors performed very well in 2018.  We will continue to be reliant on exports to chew through existing supplies.”

“We don’t know where trade will go (in 2019)” Koch said. “That’s the big wild card.”

Koch offers advice for agriculture producers in 2019.

“We encourage them to deal with the things they can control,” Koch said. “Understand production costs, seek the opportunity to be a low cost producer, focus on a disciplined market strategy and take (profit) margins where you can get them. “

Jackson Takach, lead economist for Farmer Mac

History doesn’t repeat itself but it sure does rhyme.

“Early projections of 2019 look a lot like 2018,” said Jackson Takach, lead economist for Farmer Mac.

Takach said if we don’t get a trade deal worked out with China, 2019 could be a twin of 2018.

“We export one out of every three rows of soybeans to China.  So, when they increased the tariffs that put downward pressure on our prices, about a 25 percent price decline.  If we can get those tariffs reduced, soybean prices could come up 25 percent.”

The Farmer Mac economist said grain producers will be negatively impacted the most if trade issues are not resolved going into 2019.

“Let’s say we don’t get a deal with China, soybean growers will switch to corn and wheat which would put downward pressure on those commodity prices, maybe some upward pressure on soybean prices,”Takach said.

For the livestock sector, the news is slightly better.

“For livestock producers, lower grain prices are a good thing, so they could actually see an improvement in profit margins in 2019 if grain prices stay low,” Takach said.

Takach offered this advice for producers going into the new year:

“Look very closely at the trade negotiations with China.  Try to get a good sense of what your neighbors are going to plant. You want to do what the other guy is not doing. So, if you think everyone is going to switch to corn, maybe you hang in there with soybeans.”

He also encourages producers to watch interest rates.

“I think at least two raises (in interest rates) are highly likely. Farmers are highly exposed to rising interest rates.  2019 might be a bit of a sticker shock for your operating line.”

Nathan Kaufman, vice president and Omaha Branch executive, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Kaufman believes farmers will be caught in a squeeze as the general economy will continue strong in 2019 while the agriculture economy goes in the opposite direction.

“Interest rates have been rising in recognition of a sustained growth in the U.S. economy. In an average sense, interest expenses are relatively small for agriculture, but it does mean for producers who are highly leveraged are going to face additional headwinds from rising interest rates,” Kaufman said.

“I think the fact it has now been a prolonged environment of weakness, (in the farm economy) is where there is most concern.  Lenders are now looking at loan renewal applications, and having to decide, how much longer we continue to do this, extend credit, recognizing the cash flow is still relatively weak.”

Is there any good news for 2019? Kaufman has to dig for a short term answer.

“I think it is difficult to see an environment where there is a lot of support for commodity prices getting back to a point where producers would say there are strong profit opportunities. I think there are reasons to be optimistic prices aren’t going to drop sharply, but we have to recognize there is a lot of production out there which will continue to weigh on prices.”

“The presence of risk mitigation programs, crop insurance and other things, will limit the downside risk to farm finances.”


Kim Anderson, Extension economist, Oklahoma State University

Anderson’s focus is on crop marketing and expects global demand to buoy wheat prices in 2019.

“I think for wheat producers it is going to be a relatively good year if they produce 12.5 percent protein and around 60 pound test weight per bushel. If not, they will have trouble selling it. The export market determines our prices and right now Russia is producing a high quality product and we have to match it.”

“The key to our wheat prices is what happens in Russia. If Russia turns off the spigot and reduces exports, then our prices are going to go up to $5.50, maybe even $6 per bushel as we approach June.”

Anderson’ optimism is based on a global shortage of high quality wheat.

“It’s projected that the world is going to consume more wheat than what was produced in 2018. The world is going to need our protein and test weight and they are going to pay for it.”


Derrell Peel, Extension economist, Oklahoma State University

Peel, who specializes in the livestock sector, said strong demand for meat protein in 2019 will bolster the outlook for producers in the coming year.

“Demand has been phenomenal, both domestic and internationally, and kept cattle prices strong,” Peel said.  I expect that to continue in 2019.”

“The tariff issues have not dramatically impacted the beef industry yet, but we have to keep an eye on it.”

“I expect beef prices to be slightly higher in 2019. The cattle market has been and will continue to be a bright spot in 2019.”

Given the optimistic outlook, should cattle producers expand herds in 2019?

“Don’t change your plans, if you have expansion plans,” Peel said.  “But, you want to keep an eye on the big picture, to stay on top of things so you can figure out if you need to react.”


Larry Sanders, Extension economist and professor, Oklahoma State University

Sanders is well known for his work on agriculture policy and he sees a mixed bag for rural Oklahoma in 2019.

“Those counties with oil and gas income will be okay in 2019,” Sanders said.  “For agriculture, if the trade issues are not resolved soon, there is the potential things could get even worse in 2019.”

Sanders said the good news is the NAFTA 2.0 trade pact.  The new trade agreement, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement or U.S.M.C.A. , is similar to the old NAFTA.

“For Oklahoma this is about the same as the old NAFTA, so there is less uncertainty, and that is a good thing when farmers are looking out ahead and planning for the future.”

“The new farm bill and the USDA budget will be resolved so it looks a lot like the past versions.  If we don’t have an economic recession, than I think things will be okay for agriculture.”


The uncertainty created by the federal government shutdown is impacting agriculture markets and making agricultural producers apprehensive about the future. That’s according to Terry Detrick, Ames, Okla., farmer and President of AFR/OFU, one of Oklahoma’s major farm organizations with more than 60,000 members.

“The longer the shutdown continues the greater the impact will be,” Detrick said. “We’re concerned about our farmers and ranchers having access to vital government programs through the Farm Service Agency offices.  As we start the new year, farmers and ranchers must start making plans for the upcoming growing season.  Oklahoma is the number one state in the nation for processing farm loans.  With shuttered FSA offices, they cannot accommodate farmers’ needs.”

Detrick said the government closure is also affecting the new farm bill signed into law right before Christmas.

“The shutdown is slowing implementation of the new farm bill,” Detrick said. “The USDA personnel that are supposed to be writing the new rules for implementing the farm bill are currently furloughed.”

Meanwhile, livestock need to be cared for and the feed bills need to be paid.  Detrick said life continues at a busy pace on today’s farms and ranches regardless of a government shutdown.   This means expenses keep piling up.  Producers operating with FSA loans cannot get their money in time to pay bills and are being hurt the most from this shutdown.

The Ames, Oklahoma said he hopes the shutdown is nearing its conclusion.

“We strongly urge Congress and President Trump to work out a solution as soon as possible,” Detrick said


JB Stewart, Cimarron County, Okla., AFR member, has been selected to serve on the USDA’s Farm Service Agency state committee.

“This is a great honor for JB and he will serve Oklahoma and agriculture with distinction,” Terry Detrick, AFR president said.

Stewart and his family grow wheat and grain sorghum on their farm near Keyes in the Oklahoma Panhandle. He still owns and farms the 160 acres homesteaded by his great-grandfather. Today their farming business extends across Cimarron and Texas Counties.

JB and his son, Jarrod, are active AFR members and Jarrod owns the AFR Insurance agency in Boise City.

They also own Hopkins Ag Supply, LLC, an agri-business that sells fertilizers, agricultural chemicals, seed, and general farm supplies, while also providing custom chemical application and custom farming.

The Panhandle farm leader served on the Cimarron County FSA Committee for nine years, and was elected to the local school board for three terms. He served as a board member and is past president of the Oklahoma Crop Improvement Association and is a past chairman of the Oklahoma Sorghum Commission.

 He is currently vice president of Oklahoma Genetics, Inc. and is serving the last year of his third term on the National Sorghum Producers (NSP) board of directors and was previously Chairman of the NSP Board for two years.

Stewart is a graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University with a BS degree in Chemistry and Animal Science. 


A large crowd of rural Oklahomans are expected to attend the 114th annual convention of the AFR/OFU, Feb. 15-17, 2019 at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Norman, Okla. The theme is “New Day. New Vision.”

Heading the list of distinguished speakers is Roger Johnson, president of the National Farmers Union, Scott Biggs, state director, Oklahoma Farm Service Agency, USDA, Blayne Arthur, Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture, and Neil Alldredge, senior vice president, corporate affairs for National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC).

A special youth leadership session is scheduled for Feb. 16 and will be led by well-known youth leadership trainers Marty Jones and Lawson Thompson.

A unique feature at this convention will be the AFR Women’s Council blood drive beginning Saturday morning at 9 a.m.

A Saturday afternoon breakout session on market enhancement for Oklahoma agriculture will include presentations from the state’s commodity organizations.

One of the convention highlights will be election of directors and officer positions. This year voting delegates will elect a new president to lead the AFR/OFU Cooperative. In addition, there are three board positions to be voted on.

AFR/OFU President Terry Detrick is retiring after 9 years at the helm.  The Ames, Okla., farmer and rancher has served the organization for over 30 years in various leadership roles. A special reception and retirement presentations are scheduled for Saturday evening, Feb. 16.

A video presentation by U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) will highlight the Sunday morning worship and memorial service.

A record number of 159 students, grades 10-12, attended the senior session of the AFR Leadership Summit, July 25-28 at the Heartland Conference Center in Oklahoma City.

Summit sessions focused on leadership and personal development through team building exercises and personal reflection.

The theme this year was “Spark” which translated to encourage participants to become more involved, be more connected and to make changes in our daily lives that leave lasting legacies, said Micaela Danker, AFR/OFU youth development coordinator.

“The students had the opportunity to learn, grow and develop into leaders who are ready to take change back to their schools,” Danker said.

Summit participants engaged in a robust discussion of state issues during a policy session lead by Steve Thompson, AFR/OFU director of governmental relations.  The students had the opportunity to research and debate issues such as teacher pay, animal welfare and four-day school weeks.

One of several team-building exercises included a service project where participants were broken into 16 groups. Each group was then given the task of advocating for their state, national or global level non-profit. At the conclusion of the service project, a $1,000 donation was made to Special Olympics Oklahoma, a sports training and competition program for persons with intellectual disabilities.

“This is a great opportunity for our participants to learn about different needs around the world and right here in Oklahoma,” Danker said.

The history of AFR is rich with culture and growth which began with Oklahoma Farmers Union.  For more than 40 years the farm organization has sponsored a Leadership Summit for the state’s top young leaders. Many of the students have taken what they have learned back to their communities and served in greater leadership roles at the local and state levels.


AFR women are invited to attend the annual AFR Women’s Conference-Weekend in the Springs, August 11th and 12th in Sulphur, Okla.  The historic Artesian Hotel, located in downtown Sulphur, is the headquarters for this fun and educational conference.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to experience a relaxing weekend in beautiful south central Oklahoma for our conference,” said Pam Livingston, AFR Women’s Cooperative chair. “Our goal is to educate, motivate and inspire women.”

Conference highlights include a tour of the Chickasaw Cultural Center, Stomp Dance demonstration and meals featuring local cuisine. There will also be time to visit local shops in historic downtown Sulphur before concluding the evening at the Artesian Hotel.

The original Artesian Hotel, built in 1906, was a regular getaway for celebrities, politicians and trendsetting tourists. A 1962 fire destroyed the building but not the concept. Today, the new and improved hotel features unique shops, fine dining and indoor bath house and pools taking advantage of the area’s natural springs.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center, located in the Arbuckle Mountains, is a world-class museum focused on the Chickasaw history and culture. The center includes an amphitheater, sky terrace, traditional village and interactive exhibits.

Livingston notes adventure and fun awaits participants at this year’s conference, but it’s just one of the many opportunities of the AFR Women’s Cooperative.

“Our mission is to build community involvement by offering initiatives and educational opportunities to AFR members,” Livingston said.

To learn more, go to www.iafr.com




Francie Kucera Tolle has always considered herself a farmer and rancher.  Growing up on the family’s Grant County, Okla., farm, she learned first-hand the many sacrifices farmers had to make in order to feed their family and the families of many others. Today, Tolle has dedicated her career to serving the agriculture industry.

This strong compassion and agricultural background has led to AFR selecting Tolle, the current Regional Director of the USDA’s Risk Management Agency, to receive the coveted AFR Ag Advocacy Award.

“Francie has contributed a great deal to agriculture in Oklahoma and across the nation,” said Terry Detrick, AFR president. “When she was on our staff, we respected her knowledge and wisdom on crucial farm policy issues.”

Francie and her husband, Chuck Tolle, continue the farming legacy today in Grant County with their two sons, Cole and Clint.

Francie’s journey from a young farm girl to a national advocate for agriculture has been sprinkled with many accomplishments and contributions to agriculture.  In addition to her efforts as legislative policy analyst for AFR, she has worked as Executive Director of the Oklahoma Wheat Growers, Agricultural Liaison to Congressman Brad Carson, Director of Agritoursim for Oklahoma, and State Director of the Farm Service Agency.

“Being recognized by AFR as an advocate for agriculture is a huge honor for me,” Tolle said.  “I always try to do what I think is best for our agricultural producers.”

Last year Tolle received the Significant Women in Agriculture award from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.  When receiving the award she was quoted as saying her greatest accomplishment is building a legacy with her family to make sure that others will value and appreciate agriculture as a result of their stewardship. “My goal is to leave a legacy,” she said.

More than 825 lives were saved as the result of blood donations made during AFR-sponsored blood drives last year.  The announcement was made during the AFR Women’s Cooperative awards luncheon, Feb. 17. The luncheon was held in conjunction with the annual AFR convention at the Embassy Suites Hotel & Conference Center in Norman.

“This is incredible,” said Crystie Shebester, AFR Women’s Cooperative state council chair, “we are so pleased and overwhelmed by the generosity of Oklahomans.”

The AFR women leaders made blood donations a priority activity in 2017 as many local and county AFR groups and insurance agents sponsored blood drives. AFR partnered with the Oklahoma Blood Institute.  As the nation’s 9th largest non-profit blood center, Oklahoma Blood Institute relies solely on 1,200 volunteer blood donors a day to meet the needs of patients at more than 160 hospitals and medical facilities statewide.

A total of 2,475 units of blood were donated in 2017 during AFR sponsored blood drives.  OBI estimates for every three units of blood donated, one life is saved.

During the luncheon, awards were presented to local AFR groups attracting the most donations.  This included:

1st- Northeastern State University with a total of 200 units donated, sponsored by the Celeste Looney AFR Insurance Agency.

2nd-Elk City with 125 units donated, sponsored by the Crow AFR Insurance Agency.

3rd- Locus Grove Guns & Hoses with 65 units donated, sponsored by the Cowan AFR Insurance Agency

Also recognized for their outstanding blood donation efforts were Gilbert AFR Insurance Agency in Tecumseh, the Miller AFR Insurance Agency in cooperation with the Pushmataha Hospital, and the Brown AFR Insurance Agency in cooperation with Lone Star Elementary school.

An amazing fact of the 2017 AFR blood drives was the response from 172 people who were first-time blood donors.

In addition to local blood drives, AFR also sponsored blood drives during the 2017 Oklahoma Youth Expo and the Oklahoma FFA convention.  Practically all donations were from rural Oklahomans.

Serving rural communities is a cornerstone of AFR.

“From our very beginning, more than 100 years ago, we have focused on serving rural Oklahoma communities,” Terry Detrick, AFR president, said. “Improving the lives of rural Oklahomans has always been our priority.”

When he is not working on his Wynona, Okla., ranch, Eddie Fields is representing District 10 in the Oklahoma Legislature.  It’s not easy running a successful ranching business while spending almost half of the time 130 miles away at the state Capitol, but Fields has a strong sense of serving others.

His call to public duty was a significant factor in his selection as an AFR Ag Advocacy award winner.

“Sen. Fields unwavering compassion for public service and his strong dedication to agriculture make him a great candidate for our Ag Advocacy award,” said Terry Detrick, AFR president.

Fields is a third-generation rancher, continuing the Fields Ranch legacy started by his family in Osage County in 1952. Today he gets plenty of help from his wife, Christina and three daughters, Tailor, Jacie and Tristan.  A strong desire to hold public office fueled his first election to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  He crossed the aisle in 2010 to represent Kay and Osage counties in the Oklahoma Senate. His leadership has been evident, as he has served as Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and is currently Assistant Majority Floor Leader and Vice Chairman of Appropriations, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services, and Chairman of Rules.

“I have just felt it necessary to step out and work for my neighbors and the citizens of Oklahoma,” Fields said.

“The coveted AFR Ag Advocacy Award is presented to deserving individuals who have demonstrated a strong record of advocating for agriculture,” Detrick said, “and Sen. Fields has definitely worked hard for the farm and ranching industry.”

Kent Boggs and Kendall Brashears received special recognition from AFR members Feb. 17 during the annual AFR convention in Norman, Okla.

Boggs, Oklahoma FFA executive secretary, is retiring this year after 32 years of working with Oklahoma’s youth.  After graduating from OSU, he joined the faculty as an agricultural education instructor at Marlow High School in Marlow, Okla., for two years.  In 1980, Boggs became an agricultural education instructor at Elgin High School in Elgin, Okla., where he taught for five years before joining the Oklahoma FFA Association as the State FFA Executive Secretary. He is responsible for planning, coordinating and implementing the leadership component of the student organization which includes state officers, membership development, marketing and public relations, conventions, contests and awards.

Brashears retired last year as executive director of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation.  Brashears has served the Oklahoma FFA, agricultural educators and students since his career began in 1974. He has worked tirelessly in the classroom, in school administration, and as executive director of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation to support agricultural education in the state. In Brashears’ 12 years with the FFA Foundation, annual sponsorships increased from approximately $150,000 to $680,000. These funds support the state FFA convention, student awards, and the annual agriscience fair.  Under his leadership the FFA Foundation has twice received the Community Impact Award from the Oklahoma Business Ethics Consortium.

“Both of these men have been incredible role models for our state’s agricultural youth,” said Terry Detrick, AFR president.  “Many of our leaders today credit their FFA experience for contributing to their success and I know both Kent and Kendall had an impact on their lives.”