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Weather whisperer, economist keynote farm forum in Indiana
 
By MEGGIE I. FOSTER
Associate Editor

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — For an educational and inspiring day out of the office or away from the farm, the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) encourages Hoosiers to attend the Indiana Livestock, Forage and Grain Forum on Feb. 11 at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

“The forum continues to be a big draw for grain and livestock farmers from across the state as a place to see dynamic, nationally known speakers, as well as a time to connect with their peers and industry representatives from commodity groups to companies providing important goods and services to our industry,” said Megan Kuhn, communications director for ISA.

New to the 2013 schedule is an afternoon general session dedicated to helping farmers manage risk on their operations.
“We added an afternoon general session this year to bring forum attendees back together to wrap up the day and also provide some useful information that they can hopefully use on their grain and livestock farms in terms of helping them manage risk,” said Kuhn. “After a morning that is designed to push them to think big about the issues affecting our industry on a global scale, the risk management session brings it back to practical advice for farmers. We think it’s a good mix.”

Registration for the full-day event is $50 and includes breakfast, lunch, conference materials and access to trade show exhibits.
Pre-registration is required at www.indianasoybean.com/forum
The forum is organized by several Indiana agricultural groups, including Indiana Beef Cattle Assoc., Indiana Board of Animal Health, Indiana Corn Growers Assoc., Indiana Corn Marketing Council, Indiana Dairy Producers, Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Forage Council, Indiana Horse Council, Indiana Pork, Indiana Soybean Alliance, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Milk Promotion Services of Indiana, Inc., and Purdue Extension.
In addition to a variety of breakout sessions appealing to a multitude of interests, historical climatologist Evelyn Browning-Garriss will share with farmers what current world weather patterns and trends mean for their operations during the latter half of the morning session.

“Weather feels so random, but it isn’t random,” said Browning-Garriss, who is often called the Weather Whisperer. “There are large and small (weather) patterns, and with today’s technology, we are getting a better idea of what these patterns mean for productivity.”
During her morning talk at the forum, Browning-Garriss will outline the factors shaping the global climate long term, a combination of things like solar energy, volcanoes, incoming radiation, and huge ocean patterns, which play an integral role in the earth’s climate. Since more than 70 percent of the earth’s surface is ocean, they absorb and store most of the heat.

“When it comes to global climate, the oceans are not the elephant in the room – they are the room,” said Browning-Garriss. “One of the things agricultural producers are most surprised to learn is that the weather in this part of the world is controlled by the Atlantic, and by monitoring the Atlantic they can forecast up to three months ahead of time when they are going to start having problems from their weather.”

Browning-Garriss said her research literally follows the flow of energy from the sky to the earth to the ocean and land. She is able to look at today’s weather patterns and compare those patterns to an enormous database of historical data and retrieve information on what happened historically weather-wise in the five most similar years to the current conditions.

For example, Browning-Garriss said 2006 was a tipping point year for a roughly 50-year weather cycle in the Pacific, which in turn has a massive impact on global precipitation patterns and the ability of farmers worldwide to produce enough food.

“We are going to be showing producers where precipitation patterns have moved and what the trends are,” said Browning-Garriss. “We are now going through a time phase very similar to what we saw in the 1950s. During that time, America was prosperous, but it was not an easy time to be a farmer because there were a large number of droughts.”

In addition to her morning presentation, Browning-Garriss will also be the featured speaker during the Soybean/Corn afternoon breakout session. The session will primarily focus on questions and answers from the audience and allow her to go into more detail on meeting the specific needs and interests of the attendees.
A complete agenda for the Indiana Livestock, Forage and Grain Forum can be found online at www.indianasoybean.com/forum
2/6/2013