Pub. 10 2022 Issue 1

2022 Ag Outlook & Conference Recap


This story appears in the
Utah Banker Magazine Pub. 10 2022 Issue 1

Following a virtual meeting in 2021, Ag bankers from around the state came together in person for the 2022 Ag Outlook & Conference, February 10-11 at the Dixie Convention Center in St. George, Utah. The two-day conference — in partnership with the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences at Utah State University — featured a diverse list of speakers and topics, including economic and weather forecasts, new tools and technologies, and reminders to stay diligent with advocacy efforts.

UBA President Howard Headlee kicked things off, thanking the assembled bankers for supporting their communities — especially these last couple of years — helping Utah lead the way in economic recovery. And while the politicization of banking is heating up at the state and federal levels, bankers will continue to make a difference because we are Bankers for Good.

Then the group broke up into three workshops, including an overview of a range management software platform with Dr. Eric Thacker, a presentation about mental health awareness and advocacy with Dr. Ty Aller, and a discussion about fodder-type systems with Dr. Ryan Larsen.

Next up, Ag commodities expert Shawn Hackett gave a detailed virtual presentation about weather patterns and cycles. Based on his findings, he predicts a bearish market with shorter growing cycles and below-trend crop yields.

Following a repeat of the workshops and a short break, the group reconvened for dinner and a keynote address from Zions Bank President & CEO and ABA Chair Scott Anderson. Anderson touched on a number of topics, including an emphasis that Utahns want to produce more local food. Therefore, it is imperative that we support our farmers and assist them in adopting new technologies, work with community leaders to use land for agriculture, and increase urban farming. All in all, there is a lot to be excited about as lenders, and we should use that credibility with our legislators.


The following morning, State Bank of Southern Utah President & CEO and UBA Chair Eric Schmutz welcomed the audience, reminding them that change in our industry is constant, advocacy is critical, and we must continue to be good stewards of the land.

Building on that last theme, Tom Tippets of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food gave a presentation about the department’s Grazing Improvement Program, aimed at improving productivity, land health, and sustainability of livestock grazing.

USU Agricultural Economists Drs. Ryan Feuz and Ryan Larsen gave their annual Ag Outlook, including hay, corn, wheat, and dairy projections. Supplies are down, and demands are up, so they expect prices to continue rising, and drought and weather will be key factors this year.

Ed Elfmann, Senior Vice President of Agricultural and Rural Banking Policy for the American Bankers Association, provided an update from Washington, D.C. He gave background on legislation and initiatives that the ABA is working on, including ECORA, the farm credit system, rural development, cannabis, and more.

Then Dave Staheli regaled the audience with his fascinating story, in which he was inspired at a taco restaurant to apply steam to hay to make up for inconsistent dew. His products have helped hay producers worldwide become more efficient, with a more consistent and higher quality product.

Katelyn McCullock, Director and Senior Agricultural Economist at the Livestock Marketing Information Center, wrapped up the conference with a Cattle and Sheep Outlook. According to her projections, higher corn and grain prices, as well as uncertainty and inconsistency in exports, will continue to fuel higher beef and lamb prices.

Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s conference; we look forward to seeing everyone next year!