Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Ten 'blink' predictions for '09
Ted and Melissa Miller of Pennsylvania are a good news story for agriculture.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, Blink, says that our best thinking can arise in an instant--"the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye." I thought I'd give it a try for this exercise, while dialing in the optimistic side of my mind.
So, here goes, my blink predictions for 2009:
1. The economy will get better. And it will happen faster than people now believe. Why? People are tiring of gloom and doom. Our institutions are designed to work, not to shut down, just like farmers plant crops every year no matter what.
2. The weather will be better this spring than last. How could it be any worse?
3. The commodity markets will pull off some pleasant surprises. It's all part of this new era of volatility. But if anyone really knew when the rallies would occur, they'd be at a beach now.
4. USDA will be more farmer friendly. Don't be surprised to see the big bureau offer new initiatives for helping farmers start new enterprises, generate energy, and find new markets.
5. More opportunities for young and beginning farmers. This is the year when the big generational transfer will hit full stride. At winter farm shows, you'll see more people pushing baby strollers than holding canes and leaning on walkers. Check out the Farmers for the Future social network for a sense of this direction.
6. A new communications era will take shape. Mobile devices and online social networking will continue to redefine how we communicate with each other. Your friends' friends will become your friends.
7. Farmers will get greener. New crop production technologies, such as auto guidance and RTK networks, are entering the mainstream and are helping farmers conserve inputs, reduce field operations, and improve yields.
8. Bigger niche opportunities will grow in livestock. Demand for speciality production will expand, as consumers continue to shop for, and pay more for, meats grown under specific requirements--organic, grass-fed, free-range, breed specific, etc. The Miller family story is a good example here.
9. Global understanding will improve. U.S. farmers will learn more about their counterparts in South America, Europe, and Asia, as idea exchanges grow out of new communications technologies and international exhibitions, like the new AG CONNECT Expo in Orlando.
10. The future will stay in the future. For all the agonizing that's occured over the last months about the state of the global economy, we'll all continue to live in the eternal present, and generally avoid all the nasty predictions offered up by gloomy economists and pundits.
Posted by John Walter at 5:58 AM