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Agriculture Simulator Educates Farmers On Risk Management

By Samantha Horton, IPB News | Published on in Agriculture
(Left to right) Kayla Holscher, Jenna Lansing and Andy Hruby work as a group during the Ag Survivor simulator activity at Purdue University's Top Farmer Conference. (Samantha Horton/IPB News)
(Left to right) Kayla Holscher, Jenna Lansing and Andy Hruby work as a group during the Ag Survivor simulator activity at Purdue University's Top Farmer Conference. (Samantha Horton/IPB News)

This week’s Top Farmer Conference gave attendees the chance to participate in an Ag Survivor simulation. The Purdue University event aims to help farmers and agriculture professionals better understand the economic implications of their decisions.

Farmers constantly face choices to keep their farms operating. The simulation offers participants a chance to put their risk management skills to the test in an educational setting.

Sitting in front of a computer, each group discussed and made several choices including acres to plant of each crop, crop insurance and crop storage.

“It was fun to see, like, go through that practice and make you think through it a little bit further and actually pull the emotions out of the decisions,” says attendee Jenna Lansing.

Andy Hruby is a farmer in northeastern Indiana and attended the Top Farmer Conference for the first time. He says the simulation helped him at a time when profit margins are tight and better understanding the risks being taken.

“Really opens your eyes to what you’re doing good and what areas you need to improve on,” says Hruby. “And working in a group too, you can see how other people–other people’s opinion on same topics we’re trying to cover.”

The Ag Survivor simulator has been around for more than a decade.

Program developer Jay Parsons says risk management is at the forefront of farmers minds while profit margins are tight right now.

“Risk is as much about creating opportunity as it is about protecting against bad things,” Parsons says. “And if you’re constantly thinking in terms of the distribution of things that can happen and trying to manage that and create those opportunities, then when those bad years come, hey you’re a little more prepared for them.”

While thousands have participated in the simulation, Parsons says this is the first time it has been done at the Top Farmer conference.

The conference also included educational sessions that help farmers plan for the 2020 season.

Contact Samantha at shorton@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @SamHorton5.