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Corn, soybean growers hear of bright potential for farm economy growth

Mike Pearson, a commentator on ag issues from Iowa, has hope that the agricultural economy can return to the stability and growth that it saw in the 1950s.
Pearson, who hosts a podcast for Ag News Daily and is the former host of Iowa Public Television’s Market to Market weekly television show, was the guest speaker Saturday night for the McLeod County Corn & Soybean Growers annual meeting and banquet.
Pearson’s message of a widening market for crops was welcome new for farmers and crop producers, who saw their net farm income drop by 50 percent in recent years, the worst drop since the Great Depression.
“We’ve already seen that commodity prices have stopped dropping,” said Pearson, who noted that prices the past couple of years have been the lowest in decades.
Looking back in history, Pearson noted that the farm economy has a “downward bounce” about every 30 years. An exception to that was the 1950s, when mechanization after World War II changed farming dramatically. Pearson noted that more tractors were sold between 1950 and 1955 than from 1956 through 2016.
Some trends that bode well for the future include the fact that people eat out more — and not just fast food (which has “exploded” according to Pearson), but meals at nice restaurants. In fact, people spend more at restaurants than at grocery stores. Pearson noted that when meat prices, especially beef, spiked to all-time highs in 2014, people still went out to eat steak — and paid the high prices for it.
For more from the banquet, see the Jan. 31 print edition of The Chronicle.