2017 to 2018 IvelinRadkov/iStock/Thinkstock
WINDING DOWN, WINDING UP: As 2018 comes to an end, the focus switches to what’s ahead and that includes a lot of uncertainty for agriculture.

More questions than answers heading into 2018

Opportunities for success, failure abound as 2018 begins its march through time.

The trees are recycled (or boxed for next year), the lights are out, the resolutions have mostly already been broken. So where are we in the opening of a brand new year with brand new possibilities?

Well, if you are a farmer with plenty of on-farm storage, you may want to start thinking marketing possibilities beyond selling to the co-op, collecting LDP, paying storage and hoping for the best. During the coming year, you’ll be reading a lot about some opportunities to market it yourself in Kansas Farmer.

If you live in central Kansas, you are probably pretty worried about your winter wheat crop in the wake of a warm, blisteringly dry fall and a Christmas/New Year’s week of sub-zero temperatures. The reality is that we won’t know the damage that may have been done in those poorly-tilled fields until well into spring warmup.

If you are watching the weather and wondering how to divide your acres of crops for 2018, you probably aren’t pre-buying a lot of seed yet. The prospects for drought or another wet spring are anything but certain, even though in early January we’re leaning toward drought.

If your eyes are on the drafting of the 2018 Farm Bill, join the crowd. The leaders in Congress are optimistic that this will be quick legislation once it moves to mark-up, but like everything else these days, it’s subject to some unexpected consequences. The big question: In an era of limited budget, what will get priority?

If you worry about threats, will 2018 bring new battlefronts in the Middle East? Or in Asia? With tensions high in North Korea, and Iran and new fronts heating up in Yemen, Iran and Pakistan, will the number of places where American men and women risk their lives in the defense of freedom and democracy increase? Have the odds of an attack on the continental U.S. increased as North Korea flexes its nuclear muscles?

If you worry about export opportunity, will 2018 bring a new, improved North American Free Trade Agreement? Or will we see the erosion of trade with partners who have been steady and dependable for the past two decades? Will the pressure on China form an alliance that backs down North Korea, or will it corrupt the trading partnership with the world’s largest customer for U.S. farm products?

Can the U.S. find a way to open bigger markets in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere in southeast Asia even after pulling out of TPP?

These are all big questions looming in 2018 that far eclipse the day-to-day noise about Mueller, Russia, Manafort, Twitter feed, etc. For America’s farmers, it isn’t about who gets the biggest points in the great game of Washington politics. It’s about who gets paid a living wage for the work they’ve done and, even more importantly, who survives to farm another day.

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