The New Year is upon us. When it comes to the world of agriculture—just like the weather—it’s hard to predict the future but it’s still fun to do.
So what are some of the trends we can expect to gain traction in 2018? It’s anyone’s guess but here are what some of the experts are saying:
- Increased demand on agricultural production. The United States alone has a population of over 325 million people and that number is on the rise. More people equals the need for more food and farmers and those in the agricultural industry are charged with growing and supplying that food. The pressure to do so will continue to increase.
- A rise in high-tech farming. There is a growing fear in some circles that farmers are going to have a hard time keeping up with global demand for foods. This is one of the reasons things like genetically engineered foods, specialized and autonomous robots, and drones are becoming more mainstream. Don’t expect that to stop.
- Actionable data becomes more prevalent. What crops are needed? How can they be produced without depleting farmland? Farmers list these as some of the most important questions they face today and expect them to become even more important over the next months and years. Farmers will need this data to keep up as the technology and landscape of agriculture continues to grow and change.
- Farmers as global trade advocates. Global trade matters to farmers and farmers want their voices heard when it comes to issues regarding global trade. Don’t expect them to be silent on these matters.
- A shortage of labor. Many large farms can’t find the skilled labor that they need, especially when it comes to producing specialty crops. This could mean that more grain crops will be planted in the place of specialty crops.
- More transparency in treatment of livestock. Consumers want livestock to be raised in humane and sustainable ways. Livestock producers are becoming more and more transparent in their methods in order to win over critics. And it seems to be working.
- Farm structure will continue to shift. Farm assets are being passed down to young farmers and that trend is expected to continue. Today, the average U.S. farmer is 57 and 30 percent of farmers are over 65.
Of course no one can predict the future but these trends are definitely ones to watch in the coming year and beyond.