Editor’s note: There’s an outstanding lineup of speakers on tap for the South Dakota Corn Growers Association’s 33rd annual meeting, which will be held Jan. 19, 2019, in Sioux Falls. Each month, we’ll profile one of them. In this edition, we talked with Delaney Howell, who will serve as master of ceremonies.
As a youngster, Delaney Howell thought the Market to Market show her dad and grandparents watched regularly was “really boring.” My, how times have changed. Now, she finds herself on camera as host of the long-running show that’s now in its 44th season.
She laughs as she recalls how far she’s come since her days of growing up on a southeast Iowa farm. She and her older brother were active on the family farm, but not nearly to the extent of their younger brother who had a love of raising bottle calves, taking care of chickens and just about any activity.
“My dad teases my older brother and me. We both work in ag now and our youngest brother doesn’t,” Howell says. “The tables have turned. Dad says out of all the kids, we were the last two he expected to go into ag.”
Howell says it was during her late high school and early college years that she realized she could get involved with a show like Market to Market for a career. She was named host last February and says it’s fun to host a show she grew up with and that has been watched by so many people she knows.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been the better part of a year. At first, it was a little bit of a whirlwind. Now I feel like I’m hitting my stride, making it my own show. I had big shoes to fill,” she says. “I’m excited to be the first woman to host it and definitely the youngest to host it. It was time to have a woman host.”
Her biggest fan might be her dad. He’s not the kind of guy who shows emotion often, but when she told him she had been hired to host the show he loves, “he got a little teared up.”
“It makes us a lot closer. I’m definitely a daddy’s girl. He has been my biggest role model and support system going through all this,” she says. “The first night I hosted the show, my mom texted and said, ‘I think your dad is crying.’ He definitely has been a big influence and has been super proud and always supportive of what I’m doing. He’s eager to give me new ideas and make suggestions.”
This has been a busy time with a floundering agriculture economy, low commodity prices, tariffs, various trade issues and Congress working on a new farm bill. Howell, who also hosts Ag News Daily, says she keeps up by reading, talking to traders, poring over emails and collecting as much information as she can. In any given week, she spends 10 to 15 hours reading through news and commentary, and stresses that she’s not wasting her time by doing that.
In her presentation during the South Dakota Corn Growers Association’s annual meeting, Howell plans to speak from a trade perspective and focus on the big picture – what’s going on with the trade scene and how it relates to commodity prices. She says there are things farmers can do that play into the bigger global picture, including paying attention to what’s going on with the trade front and the farm bill. During challenging economic times, it’s important for farmers to know their input costs and their break-evens.
Howell says the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico isn’t much different than the current North American Free Trade Agreement, but the importance is to have a deal in place to create consistency and guarantee we have an agreement in place with our trade partners. As for the trade war with China, Howell says even if a deal is reached in early 2019, the relationship between the two countries is really damaged and will take time to improve.
Howell says the United States never should have been in a situation where it relied so heavily on trade with China. It should have been working more with other partners, and it is now taking steps that direction by pursuing trade agreements with the European Union, South Korea and Japan.
“We had too much reliance on China, and now we’re kind of paying for it,” she says. “I think it’s going to be a couple years of rough times in agriculture, but hopefully we’ll come out of it a little stronger and with lots of trading partners and not just one we rely on so heavily.”
Howell says she’s excited about the opportunity to talk with South Dakota corn growers at the January meeting.
“It will be interesting to hear what audience members and the speakers have to say.”