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Trends and Disruptors: Part 1

What do you think your agri-business will look like in 25 years?

David Kohl, Contributing Writer, Corn+Soybean Digest

March 27, 2023

2 Min Read
Another disruptor for the U.S. economy could be demographics. Getty Images

Strategic planners are envisioning their game plans for beyond the quarter century mark. There appears to be a global economic slowdown, particularly in Europe, with the possibility of prolonged negative economic growth. China is in a growth recession and the odds of a recession in the U.S. are a tossup.

The Federal Reserve's focus on killing the dragon of inflation with interest rate hikes and quantitative tightening will impact the value of cryptocurrencies, the stock market, and residential real estate. The theme appears to be transitional economics for the U.S. and globe. The following disruptors will either accelerate or impede change depending upon the segment of your industry. Let's examine a few of the disruptors and trends.

Globalization to de-globalization

Many segments of the U.S. agriculture industry are export based. Cotton, soybeans, dairy, pork, and poultry are just a few examples of commodities that are dependent on trade. The de-globalization or regionalization trend started following the Great Recession and accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic and now with the Russo-Ukrainian war.

A strategic planner must develop strategies to mitigate extreme volatility in prices, costs, and asset values. As authoritarian leaders, such as Mr. Putin, China’s President Xi, and others in emerging nations, get later in their tenure and age, they will move toward the original political doctrines such as communism. These closed mindsets result in trading with trusted partners with a similar mindset or on a regionalized basis.

Any spats such as war or a conflict with North Korea or Taiwan could create a sudden “flip the switch” in strategies with chaos resulting for manufacturing, technology, and agriculture industries. Asia, and particularly China, will have more intense trade linkages with the southern hemisphere as a result of the Belt and Road Initiative, which we have discussed before.


The other “D” in the disruptor category will be demographics. Peter Zeihan, the author and speaker, has many great readings and podcasts on U.S. and global demographics, and how it is shaping economic, military, and political strategy. China, Japan, Europe, and Russia all face an accelerating aging phase which will put pressure on the workforce, consumer purchases, and investments. Understanding the effects of demographics will be imperative in trade negotiations and remaining competitive as an industry and society.

Of course, regulation and immigration in the U.S. are critical elements for success in the agriculture industry. The transition of assets and talent will be crucial for the continued success of many business models in agriculture. Expect the concept of controlling assets, otherwise known as renting and leasing, versus the ownership of assets to be more predominant and the growing mindset of the next generation.

Remember, asset transfers refer to estate planning whereas management transition is the transfer of a business culture. Is your business culture designed to build on the talents or limit or destroy the next generation of growth and potential?

See you next time as we discuss more disruptors!

About the Author(s)

David Kohl

Contributing Writer, Corn+Soybean Digest

Dr. Dave Kohl is an academic Hall of Famer in the College of Agriculture at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. Dr. Kohl has keen insight into the agriculture industry gained through extensive travel, research, and involvement in ag businesses. He has traveled over 10 million miles; conducted more than 7,000 presentations; and published more than 2,500 articles in his career. Dr. Kohl’s wisdom and engagement with all levels of the industry provide a unique perspective into future trends.

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