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Following the Trends

“Connect those that grow it.” That is what Paul Yeager tries to do. As the producer and host of “Market to Market” on Public Television, Yeager is the connection between viewers – rural and urban alike -- from across the country each week to some of the top agricultural and investment leaders in farm policy, markets, and production.

He grew up on a farm in northeast Iowa, majored in journalism in college, and then married the two experiences into a commitment to sharing the stories, insight, obstacles, and successes of those in the agricultural industry.

RELATED: “Market to Market” examined genetic diversity in the dairy cattle industry. Watch that here. 

Much has changed since his farm days. Farmland has become a sought-after investment asset because of its sustained value growth over the past few decades. There is more attention to financial markets, instantly accessible commodities data, broadband availability on the farming operations, and the increasingly globalized impact of foreign competition, international conflicts, and changing weather patterns.

And, yes, politics can be part of the conversation. “There is a viewpoint of some that see a certain political party as their key to success.”

Yeager said, “Farming, agriculture in general, is dependent on political pressures and wins like anything else.”

Yeager leaves his personal politics out of his show. But there is no way to avoid the presence of politics in some agricultural issues.

“One of our biggest trading partners is pretty much considered a trade enemy right now,” Yeager said of China in the view of some in American politics.

But China has been and could continue to be a key trading partner for U.S. producers. “We have to think about what is it that China might bring to us? We have to,” Yeager said.

Former president Donald Trump launched a trade war with China when he was in office by increasing tariffs on some goods and President Joe Biden has added new tariffs.

Discussions about a new Farm Bill provide another intersection of agriculture and politics for Yeager to follow. Some politicians don’t believe the country should pay so much for food assistance programs. Some want to cut subsidies that go to wealthier farmland owners or crop support. Others prioritize a safety net for both agricultural producers and lower income Americans.

Those differences are why Yeager doesn’t like to talk in absolutes. He knows some Democrats don’t all think alike and neither do Republicans. Just like all sectors of the agricultural industry aren’t the same. He tries to keep that in mind for viewers on his show.

“I know for some it is bad,” Yeager said about some farmland owners and producers right now. “But there are plenty of others who are making money right now.”

He added, “It’s a tough thing to paint with a very broad brush.”

That’s why he is also hesitant to say that higher interest rates – higher when compared to rates over the past decade – are halting land sales. Slowing sales? Sure. Stopping them all? No.   

“Who’s buying farmland right now? Those who can afford to pay cash. They’re not financing it. So, the interest rate doesn’t matter as much for many of the buyers, but not all of them,” Yeager said.

That is another reason why he doesn’t want to generalize, especially when he is talking about people’s livelihoods and financial future. “There are plenty of people trying to buy land that are financing it.”

LEARN MORE: Paul Yeager also has a passion for local sports, another reminder of those early farming days and the values they instilled about community. He explains which sport inspired him to wear a bright pink blazer. 


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