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International trade issues and poor business planning can be time consuming and very costly for farmers and most of them don’t even realize it until it’s too late, according to Kent County farmer David Marvel. 

He joined dozens of farmers from across the state Monday, March 4, at the Harrington Fire Hall to learn how they can better prepare for those very issues. 

The second annual Risk Management Conference, hosted by the Delaware Farm Bureau (DEFB) and the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, offered a day of speakers to help farmers and those professionally engaged in the agriculture industry understand a variety of topics including budgeting and production costs, services available to farmers, solar farm developments and dryland yield modeling for crop insurance. The event also included an economic update from the American Farm Bureau Federation, and updates on the fertilizer and grain markets. 

“I’ve gotten positive feedback on the conference. It definitely opened their eyes to the markets and production costs we’re facing this year. Some people have reconsidered what they’re doing in their home farm,” Nathaniel Bruce, farm business management specialist with the Cooperative Extension.

Bruce said the conference was planned for earlier in the year in hopes of reaching farmers before their major planting seasons began to enhance their business preparations. 

“I think the biggest thing with this conference was the connectivity and the time of year, getting together with a group of producers right before planning and getting back to the basics. I think it’s a great time of year to do that, kind of like our last chance before the mad dash,” he said. “They absolutely need to know their costs of production and I think that’s the number one thing. They need to know what their break even price is for whatever crop they are facing. This year is going to be a very tight year, the margin of error will be very slim so they need to know what kind of money they have invested in this year’s crop.”

Those numbers should take into account international and national issues, business expenditures like wages and production costs, transportation, market fluctuations and any relevant risk management programs, to name just a few concerns, speakers advised.   

“This conference offered farmers a chance to get caught up on the information they need to make informed decisions when it comes to planning out their business year. It can be overwhelming, so having all of that information in one place can be very helpful,” DEFB Executive Director Don Clifton said. 

DEFB is also planning its annual Ag Safety Conference to be held Wednesday, March 20, at Loblolly Acres in Viola. Topics will include road safety, hearing loss and protection, mitigating fire risks and pesticide use. 

For more information on the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, visit To get involved with DEFB or to register for the upcoming Ag Safety Conference, visit

Post Author: Mikayla Paul

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