September 16, 2016

Trends to watch in agriculture

"There are always opportunities.

Yet, those opportunities are always followed by hardships," Tom Field, Ph.D., Director of the Engler Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln said at the recent Red Angus Association of America Annual Convention.

He went on to explain that the current times in agriculture that we are facing are topsy-turvy, wild times and the rule book is out the window. There are, however, trends to watch for that can help producers manage their risk and operations during the current, volatile markets.

Volatility is not going to go away.

Opportunities are part of the game, but it doesn’t mean you can’t thrive. Volatility and the current market is a challenge. Yet, one size does not fit all and big doesn’t always mean best. It’s a fast economy – we need to learn to deal with it.

Big data.

With all of the data being gathered within the technology in agriculture, we have a challenge: turning data into information. Doing everything through the cloud – this is the reality of the next generation of business owners. Virtual space is not going away. The next generation also includes more women: one-third of farm ownership is held by women.

“The world isn’t mad at us (agriculture),” Field said. “It resonates with people who we think don’t believe in us.”

Technology in agriculture.

The future: unmanned vehicles. We are already seeing technology that talks to each other and fitbit-type technology for animal welfare.

Search for new markets.

India and China is the increasing middle class – we have an opportunity in the protein business to reach the world demanding protein. 93-96% of consumers in the world include meat in their diet.

This trend is a huge opportunity for food production and entrepreneurs.

New space where people need high-touch.

Relationships that are face-to-face is still important in our high-tech economy. Those in the food business have an opportunity because there is not much higher touch than food. This involves the head and the heart – an emotional economy. Science still matters but perception, emotion and feelings matter more. Food decisions are emotional as they are logical. Customers make choices based on a lot of information and are loyal to brands they enjoy – this is emotional.

Consumers want simple.

Our consumers want a simple outcome. You are responsible for the customer understanding/utilizing the products. If the customer has problems in usage, blame yourself.

With farm businesses – take time to sit down with your family and/or employees and ask yourselves your goals and what it would take to be the best company in the world. We need to brand ourselves – who do you inspire to be? Who do you listen to? Are we asking the right questions?

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