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“Ag in Uncertain Times—Webinar Series on Economic Challenges for Ag Producers
By moniquegarcia on Thu, 08/29/2013 - 11:24am
The financial crisis that hit the United States in 2009 continues to affect numerous sectors of the American economy, including agricultural enterprises. In general, the agricultural industry has always faced price fluctuations, but the rate of change for factors affecting the agricultural economy has accelerated. The market has become more volatile, requiring more skill on the part of agricultural producers in managing for risk. To present critical information to agricultural producers quickly, without requiring speakers or the audience to travel, a series of webinars have been designed and presented through the Western Extension Committee, an organization of extension economists from the 13 western states, Guam and other Pacific Islands, supported by Cooperative Extension directors in the western region.
Description of Action:
In 2009, the pioneering webinar series “Ag in Uncertain Times” was launched as a multi-state effort, featuring a series of interactive 90-minute seminars. Its sequel in 2010 focused on “Managing Volatility in Agriculture.” In 2011, topics included “Ag and the Tax Relief Act of 2010—Key Changes for Farmers and Ranchers,” “Regional Perspectives on Economic Forces Shaping Land Asset Values” and “Farmers Dealing with Commercialization of Cellulosic Biofuels.”
Designed for agricultural lenders, producers, producer organizations, not-for-profit organizations, extension specialists and educators, agency personnel, crop insurance industry personnel, policy makers, and agricultural college leaders, the series emphasized management principles and tools that all producers can apply to their farm and ranch businesses to help manage the variety of risks associated with farm product and input price volatility. The webinar series featured live, interactive 60 to 90-minute seminars that included live audio, PowerPoint presentations, videos and slides, with questions taken using a chat feature during each presentation. Software and hardware were provided through Montana State University.
These web seminar series were organized by the Western Extension Committee’s “Ag in Uncertain Times Team,” with members from land grant institutions in Montana, Wyoming, Arizona, California, Colorado and Washington and the Western Center for Risk Management Education at Washington State University Extension. The entire series of webinars remains available online as a resource for the agricultural industry and for extension educators to download and use as needed.
The “Ag in Uncertain Times” webinars offered in 2011 averaged about 55-60 people per session. According to post-session surveys, 99 percent of the respondents agreed that this webinar was worth their time, and more than 98 percent would like Extension to offer further seminars. A pioneering effort, the “Ag in Uncertain Times” webinar drew widespread interest for each session offered during 2009. Praised as a unique, timely way to reach a wide audience simultaneously with a wealth of practical, expert information, the webinar series was recognized with two awards from the Western Agricultural Economics Association in 2010: the Outstanding Extension Project Group Award, and also the Award of Excellence for Multi-State Programs.