Forecasts in Agriculture

Trends and Forecasts in Agriculture


Forecasts, Let’s start with agriculture in general. You will see a trend toward shifting from crop to crop as farmers jockey for position in the market and as they find that the crops they grew in the past no longer either perform the way they did or they are losing money in the marketplace. 

   You will see a trend toward greater and greater amounts of high-value crops by one group of farmers, and a consolidating of farms under larger and larger corporations by another group of farmers. Generally, you will see the rise again of the family farm but entirely differently from what occurred in the past 50 years. This will be based on a local economy rather than a regional or national economy.  As Whole Foods has finally realized, locally grown produce is the only way they can meet the demand for organically grown food. 
   
   You will see the trend toward organically grown consumables triple in the next 3 years, quadruple in four to five years. As the market for these organic vegetables and foodstuffs grows, you will see a concomitant trend toward conventional farmers being “brought back into the fold” by the major chemical companies and extension services. 

There is an opening here for a “third way” in farming. That is, the farm that is independent of other farms does not use chemicals, grows a huge diversity of crops all of which are high-value products filling niche markets worldwide. This group of farmers will be intimately connected to the Internet to reach consumers directly rather than through local stores or national chains. 

   You will see a trend in “on farm” processing like never before. Instead of wineries and cheese making facilities, you will see the processing of food in clean, safe and chemical free environments with all kinds of food being processed. You will see a trend toward understanding the spiritual importance of food grown without chemicals but with lots of love and understanding of Nature. Consumers will, more and more, gravitate to these food items and away from the megastores that purport to sell them. 

   You will see the labeling laws change so that consumers get a better understanding of the food they eat. “Eat locally grown food” will become a battle cry and a motto for consumers. Country of origin labeling, as well as GMO labeling, will become a fact in the next 3 to 5 years. Independent farmers and processors will see the advantage of this and proceed to do it on their own before the law makes it mandatory. Companies like Wal-Mart will find that people will buy certified organic food from China, but not in the face of competition from local farmers who label their products “Made in (fill in the state name)” or “Made in the USA”. 

   You will see a trend toward multi-language labels as well. 

   Farmers will come to understand more clearly how their personal relations with customers have an impact on their bottom line. Thus, you will see the growth of CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), yes, but also the growth of food processing farm’s that have a customer list much like the Harry & David Fruit Company. 

   You will see the rise of farmer organizations that eschew the collective mind of today’s extension services and buying coops. They will be replaced by new, independent extension services that will give very good advice to farmers who do not want to use chemicals, something that today’s university extension services are woefully unprepared to offer farmers. 

   You will also see the comeback of local processing facilities for farmers where they can either get their foodstuffs processed by others or use the facilities themselves, as many in the wine business do now with the traveling bottling plants and coop’s

   You will see a rise in the price of food as it becomes scarcer and scarcer as the climate changes and the weather change over the next 10 years. This will cause many shortages. Stores like Wal-Mart, Safeway, and even Whole Foods will not be able to keep their shelves stocked without going to markets overseas to fill the demand. 

   You will see a drop in the chemical food demand. That is, food grown chemically will become less and less attractive, again causing consumers to demand the complete labeling laws regarding chemically grown vs. organically grown food, GMO’s and Country of Origin. The smart processors will put them on the label now and not wait for the government to step in. 

   The Democrats in Congress, not the Republicans will push these labeling laws and the likelihood that the Democrats will seize either the House or the Senate is high. Even if they do not, there will be a real push by consumers to change these labeling laws. 
   
   Foodstuffs brought in from overseas will find that they are more scrutinized than ever. Thus, you will also see the import laws changed so that the less than 1% of the food imported that is currently inspected will rise to 10% or more, causing many countries to ban the chemicals that are now banned in the US in their own countries to save their markets. 

   The overall trend in agriculture will be to move to small farms again, independently operated, working in groups as they did 75 and 100 years ago with local Grange type organizations, but no longer selling to the great buyers such as Con-Agra and ADM. These groups will set up their own organizations and provide their members with group selling contracts rather than fall prey to the mega-buyers of grain, and other crops. So, when a company like ConAgra comes to buy their grain, farmers will have a group selling organization negotiating the price for the farmers. 

   You will see a move toward growing crops that can be converted to alcohol quickly, but the trend ultimately will be to grow permanent crops such as switchgrass rather than annual crops such as corn. 

   Individual farmers and local coops will begin to make their own oil and diesel products for their members, selling the overages to local consumers. Farms will take the lead in this, again decentralizing the petroleum industry from the current 5 or 6 giants in the world. This will be fought eventually by Big Oil but by then, the little guys will have such a foothold on the market, Big Oil will not win, will not drive them out of business. 

   Individual farms will become entirely self-contained either within themselves or within their own organizations. This marketing power created by a no dependency on the outside market will greatly enhance the income of farmers and do much for the ecology of the world as they realize that consumers, and many farmers too, no longer want to be exposed to chemicals common in agriculture today, and as both groups realize that nonchemical farming is healthier and more spiritual. 

   There will be a rise in spiritual farming. That is, farmers will begin to understand first how much better their lives are without killing everything in the fields. Consumers will follow. Big food stores will be the last to see this trend. 

   Over the course of the next 10 years, there will be enormous changes in the climate and the land masses of the world. Ports will disappear as will access to international markets both selling and buying. The rise of the local farm that has a clientele wholly dependent on them instead of the local Safeway for food is the overall and overriding trend in the farming business. 

   Farmers who were dependent on growing genetically altered crops such as RoundUp Ready® cotton, soybeans and corn will find that these seeds are no longer available. Genetically altered crops, in general, will no longer be available as will hybrid crops. Farmers who do not anticipate this major change today will find themselves out in the cold 10 years from now, unable to cope with the changes in the environment at all. Millions of farmers worldwide will simply go out of business. In the US, hundreds of thousands of farmers will likewise go out of business. The few who see the future, those who anticipate the changes will fare far better. 

   So too will the farmers who make their farms into self-sufficient “Arks” that can withstand the forces of change. So, we will see that those farmers and individual local societies who move toward localization of their food supply will fare the best. 

   Local farmer’s markets will even be effected by these changes as it will become more difficult to move food to the markets for lack of gas and diesel fuel. Those farmers who grow their own diesel fuel will fare the best as they can deliver food locally and still retain their independence since they’re growing their own fuel. 

   Along with this trend, you will see once again the local organizations that save seeds to supply to local farmers, and many farmers will once again start to save their own seed. 

   By the year 2025, we will see the complete transition to locally grown food, feeding local economies and the collapse of the international food market as consumer preferences change and international trade is all but halted. It will be many more years before international trade in foodstuffs recovers to the level it is today. 

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