Iowa State University (ISU) economists are cautioning farmers to be prepared for a potential downturn in the valuesof commodities and land.

John Lawrence, director of Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension and Outreach and associate dean for ExtensionPrograms and Outreach, says four Iowa State economists give “an analysis of the current state of Iowa agriculture,” in aseries of papers on the Ag Decision Maker web site (http://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/, under the Ag Cycles heading).

“This analysis is not intended to be a forecast of annual prices in the coming months or years. Nor is it predicting gloom anddoom for agriculture. Rather, it is intended to help put current economic conditions into a historic context, better understandthe factors that will influence prices and margins in the future, and help farmers prepare for whatever direction the marketturns,” Lawrence says.

The ISU economists offer ways for crop and livestock producers can be ready for the possibility of economic upheaval aftermany years of increasing prices and land values.

Chad Hart, associate professor of economics and Extension economist, points out the cyclical nature of commodity marketsand advises farmers to create and follow a marketing plan based on production costs; buy inputs when making crop sales;move to fixed rate loans to protect against higher interest rates; and continue to use risk management programs, such ascrop insurance.

Lee Schulz, assistant professor and Extension livestock economist, presents the supply and demand situations for beef cattleand hogs. He highlights the importance of managing costs and price risks in a successful operation.

Michael Duffy, professor of economics and Extension economist, reviews the history of Iowa farmland values and sees alikely decline as corn and soybean prices fall, but suggests the decline won’t be as steep as the farm crisis of the 1980s.

Dermot Hayes, professor of economics and Pioneer Chair in Agribusiness, uses an Iowa State-developed method toextrapolate futures prices for five years into the future. The worst-case scenario shows corn prices as low as $4.27/bu. in 2013,$3.85 in 2014, $3.41 in 2015, $3.12 in 2016 and $2.89 in 2017; with soybean values for the corresponding years at $9.69,$8.89, $7.85 $7.09 and $6.55.

An analysis of agricultural debt by Jason Henderson and Nathan Kaufman, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of KansasCity, is included on the Ag Decision Maker web site. It refers to previous articles that deal with cycles in agriculture and howthey have affected farm debt.