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Are ag outlooks from 2010 on track in 2015?

The following question was asked of me on the speaking trail this past winter: If you look back five years, what would you have said then compared to where we are today?

Let’s dial the time machine back to 2010 and examine some of the hits and misses in economic projections. First, we were coming off the Great Recession that was devastating to U.S. coastal and southern economies, with little impact on the flyover states and agricultural and rural areas. In 2010, I thought interest rates would have increased by now, which has not occurred. The sluggish recovery in the U.S. and abroad, with political dysfunction impeding economic investment, has suppressed economic growth.

Second, I missed on land values. I did not see such acceleration in the rate of positive change. However, the lack of alternative investments along with low interest rates, a strong biofuel market, and strong markets in emerging nations created a confluence of events that established record farmland value levels in many regions of the country and the world.

Third, it was difficult to see the quick rise of methods of producing petroleum based products in the U.S. This was a definite game changer to the domestic economy and those abroad as well.

The one constant that was predicted was the economic slowdown, but not the collapse, of the emerging nations around the globe, which fueled economic growth in agriculture and rural North America.

Another prediction that was contrary to published census data is the influx of young people, women and minorities into agricultural leadership positions including owners and operators of farms, ranches and agribusinesses. I could see this trend in educational events which bodes very well for American agriculture.

Like predicting weather, there are hits and misses. In the next five years, keep an eye on the millennial generation’s impact on consumer, social, and political trends in the U.S. and abroad.  Also, water will be the new oil, something I have predicted as early as 1990.  When all is said and done, agriculture will still be a critical industry, important to the success of any country. That is one prediction you can take to the bank.

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