It’s hard to believe that it’s already been one year since we launched Ag Conversations. And the past year in the world of agriculture has been a busy one. Looking back, here’s a small sample of what we’ve seen:
New tax legislation: While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was officially signed into law in 2017, we were just beginning to feel the impacts of the legislation as we were starting Ag Conversations. For more information on how the TCJA has affected farmers and ranchers, see:
Farm tax deductions and other changes: 2018 tax season observations
IRS releases long-awaited “grain glitch” regulations – What this means for ag producers
New farm bill: The Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 passed on December 20, 2018. One of the developments stemming from it was the legalization of industrial hemp. I attended a hemp conference recently to learn more about how this will impact the ag industry. Widely seen as an alternative to many traditional products — such as plastics, cotton and wood products — industrial hemp is currently known for its medicinal properties as well.
Tariffs and trade policy: The USDA Economic Research Service recently published its Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade, where they have projected exports to be down around $4.5 billion. The report also projects agricultural imports to be up from the prior year by $1.5 billion. Tensions with China and continued efforts to finalize the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement continue to be on the minds of ag producers.
Business transition: While we’ve been helping producers for decades with transition issues surrounding the legacy of family farms and ranches, we are excited to have launched a new platform this past year for guiding you through what may be most important to you overall — your family legacy.
In case you missed our blog series on business transition:
Part 1: Is your farm or ranch your business – or your lifestyle?
Part 2: A formula for transition success: assess, collaborate and implement.
Discover how Wipfli helped the Robert E. Lee Ranch Company meet their goal of continuing their legacy.
Labor shortage: Affordable and dependable labor continues to be an issue, and we certainly didn’t see improvement in the past year. The H-2A visa program for seasonal agriculture workers is growing but still only covers a fraction of the almost two-and-a-half million farm jobs. But the process is inefficient, and delays may cause workers to arrive well beyond the time in which they are needed for harvest. Add to that the fact that the program requires farmers pay above-market wages and benefits. Zippy Duval, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, stated in a recent article, “We are getting to a point where Americans have to decide if we’re going to import workers or import our food.”
100 years of ag: This year marks the centennial year that we have been serving farmers and ranchers in Montana. Initially as Galusha, Higgins and Galusha, we began working with ag clients in 1919. We then combined that strength and experience with Wipfli in 2015, who had also been serving ag clients since its founding in 1930. We are proud of both our heritage and our increasing ability to create lasting, positive impact with our Ag clients, our associates and our communities.
Where to look for Wipfli
As summer turns to fall, the members of our team begin to plan for participation at ag conventions. You will find us at the following conventions — where we will be exhibiting and presenting at a few of them, as well:
- Women Stepping Forward for Agriculture, October 1-3, 2019, in Bozeman, MT
- 2019 Montana Seed Potato Seminar, November 5-7, 2019, in Missoula, MT
- 2019 Montana Farm Bureau Federation Convention, November 11-14, 2019, in Billings, MT
- 64thAnnual Montana Grain Growers Association Convention & Trade Show, December 3-5, 2019, in Great Falls, MT
- 135thAnnual Montana Stockgrowers Association Convention & Trade Show, December 10-12, 2019, in Billings, MT
- Idaho Potato Conference & Ag Expo, January 21-23, 2020, in Pocatello, ID
- Wisconsin Corn and Soy Expo, February 6-7, 2020, in Wisconsin Dells, WI
- Wisconsin Farm Technology Days 2020, July 21-23, 2020, in Eau Claire, WI
We hope to see you at some of these conventions — please stop by and say hello. In addition, we encourage you to share your thoughts about the blog to help us continue to improve, make it valuable and ensure that we’re covering what you want to know. We are honored to take part in your ag conversation!