If you want to dig deeper into the history and impact of the farmdoc project, the resources found on this page should be a great starting point. The resources include a journal article (still with a great title), farmdoc daily articles celebrating our 20th anniversary, videos, and annual reports.
Research farmdoc's History
Agricultural Extension has been buffeted by a variety of forces in the last several decades, including the move towards larger farms and more diverse smaller farms, budget cuts, changing policies, and a revolution in digital technology. The farmdoc project has been at the forefront of adopting the new digital technologies the last 20 years. The first part of the webinar will tell the story of the development of farmdoc and then discuss whether farmdoc is the future of agricultural Extension programs. This will be followed by Q&A with a panel of farmdoc faculty. Webinar attendees will be able to ask questions of the panel.
Irwin, S.H., G.D. Schnitkey, D.L. Good, and P.N. Ellinger. “The farmdoc Project: This is Still Your Father’s Extension Program.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 86(2004): 772-777
The agricultural-economics literature is rich with discussion and opinion relative to Ex- tension programs. Program issues that have received the most attention include program quality, challenges facing Extension, recommendations for content changes, audiences and delivery methods, and predictions about the fate of agricultural-economics Extension programs. This literature is exemplified in the articles by Hildreth and Armbruster, McDowell (1985, 1992), Knutson, and Barry.
Much of the literature from the 1980s and l990s places Extension in a relatively negative light. Concern was expressed about the ability of Extension programs in agriculture to remain relevant, adequately funded…
As part of the 20th Anniversary of the farmdoc program, we are highlighting several of the central themes that have persisted through time and are identifying some of the ways in which the farmdoc program has responded to, and continues to contribute to the ability for producers, investors, and ag-sector participants to improve their business decisions.
In many respects, the development of law is an evolutionary process, adjusting slowly to the evolving needs and values of society. Certainty and stability with respect to property rights, regulatory programs and the tax structure provide a solid foundation for long-term business planning, elements especially important in the agricultural context. The Law and Tax section of farmdoc over the past twenty years has analyzed and provided legal interpretations of many of these incremental changes. Examples of this evolutional approach include the law related to drainage, fences, and contracts. In some areas, however, the law has moved at a rapid pace to keep up with technological innovation, novel business strategies, changing land use patterns and complexities of the tax code. In our short summary below, we highlight just a few of these legal developments and make a few bold predictions about what key topics may arise in the next twenty years.
For some of us, 1999 doesn’t feel like it was that long ago. We were two years into the Asian financial crisis, and commodity prices were in the dumps. We were watching the release of the Matrix, living la vida loca while worrying whether modernity was about to collapse with Y2K. Near the end of the year, we saw riot police and protesters clash at the “battle in Seattle”. Numerous NGOs representing environmentalists, sustainable development, labor, and anti-globalization activists took to the street to protest the beginning of the current round of WTO trade talks, and their perceived exclusionary nature. Up until then, it felt like the march to global free trade was inevitable, but protesters raised concerns particularly about the non-tariff components of trade deals, such as intellectual property rights or investment protections as well as governance and inequality. These protests foreshadowed the north-south divide that has come to define the current round of trade negotiations. Two years later, the talks restarted in Doha, and have been limping along ever since. While much has been decided (such as eliminating export subsidies, reducing caps on tariffs and domestic support), a number of sticking points have kept the global trading system from getting a new deal.
When the farmdoc project started in 1999 biofuels markets and policy were barely on the radar screen. However, production and use of biofuels in the U.S. grew very rapidly starting around 2005 due to a combination of factors. Two factors stand out: i) the large increase in real crude oil prices through 2008, and ii) implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), first in 2005 and then amended in 2007. The increase in crude oil prices is crucial as it made biofuels more competitive in the marketplace and led to a political reaction that spurred the passage of the RFS legislation through the U.S. Congress. The RFS mandates have been highly controversial, particularly in the petroleum refining sector, and subject to almost continuous legal challenge. Regardless, biofuels rose to become an important driver of prices in grain and oilseed markets. If one wanted to understand price dynamics in grain and oilseed markets since 2005, you had to understand what was going on in biofuel markets. The farmdoc team has played a leading role in understanding the complex interplay between biofuels policy and markets and the implications for grain and oilseed markets. The purpose of this article is to review key developments in biofuels markets and policy since 2005 and highlight the important contributions made by the farmdoc team to better understanding the implications for agricultural markets.
In 1999, farm policy was transitioning into the modern era of decoupled support systems and an emphasis on crop insurance. As part of this 20th Anniversary commemoration series, this article reviews the farm policy developments over those years and the contributions of the farmdoc project.
In preparation for the 20th Anniversary of the farmdoc program, we are highlighting several of the central themes that have persisted through time and are identifying some of the ways in which the farmdoc program has responded to, and continues to contribute to producers’ key decisions. Among the most important risk management activities – dramatically highlighted by this year’s weather and developing production situation – involves the ever-changing crop insurance options that a producer has access to, and their interactions with other government programs. Simply put, crop insurance is the central part of many producer’s risk management programs and is among the most visible components of the federal farm programs. In response, the farmdoc team has developed several tools and educational materials to help make sense of the complex decisions faced related to crop insurance, and to government farm programs in general. The purpose of this post is to simply document the general features of the federal crop insurance program through time, and to highlight the ways some of the tools can be used to improve farm-level decision making.
Commodity outlook at farmdoc provides timely analysis of commodity markets important to the Corn Belt from a fundamental perspective. The output consists of a weekly outlook and applied analysis articles on issues related to price fundamentals. On Monday of each week, an article focuses on issues driving prices and influencing the marketing decisions of producers across major commodities. Over the last two decades, applied research articles addressing a variety of topics related to commodity price analysis appeared on farmdoc websites. While the vast majority of articles focus on corn and soybean markets, analysis on hogs, cattle, and wheat also provide information to producers.
The farmdoc project is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Going back to the beginning in 1999, the stated goal of the project was to provide, “one stop ‘web-shopping’ for agricultural risk management research and outreach for Illinois farmers and agribusinesses.” Over the last 20 years, the project grew and changed more than any of us could have imagined at the start. As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, we have prepared nine farmdoc daily articles that provide an overview of the major subject matter areas addressed, highlights important contributions, and reviews changes that occurred during the last two decades. Today’s article, the first in the series, provides an overview of the development of farmdoc, presents data on the impact of the project, and offers some lessons that we have learned along the way. A list of all nine articles in the series and authors can be found at the end of this article.