Farmers throughout the U.S. are likely singing a robust rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" as they say so long to a challenging year. Many growers couldn’t wait to put 2019 behind them.
And, who could blame them? Widespread flooding coupled with a wet spring resulted in some 19 million acres that went unplanted. The ag economy remains lethargic thanks to a multitude of issues: Tariffs and trade disputes disrupt farm exports; grain surpluses continue to pressure commodity prices; and profitability remains elusive for many grain and livestock producers.
As a result, farmers have hunkered down, cutting household and farm expenses, foregoing or delaying big-ticket purchases such as new farm equipment, and taking actions that safeguard working capital and equity.
The economic news, however, is not all gloom and doom for American agriculture. The overall U.S. economy continues its path of steady growth, inflation is historically low and farmland prices continue to show resiliency.
Against this backdrop, farmers are looking ahead to not only a new year but a new decade. But, will the next 10 years be filled with promise or plight? No one knows for certain, but this much we do know: Disruptive forces will continue to drive change in 2020 and beyond. They will define how you operate and manage your farm business, reshape commercial agriculture, guide our food industry from farm to fork, and influence how consumers perceive the food they eat.
With this issue, we begin a special ongoing series, Decade of Disruption (see page 20). It will explore various catalysts of change that will likely cause discomfort for many in agriculture while creating rewards and new opportunities for those able to adapt to these changes.
Some of the disrupters will have a familiar ring. Others may surprise you.
Regardless, change is ever-constant and occurring at a rapid pace. How you react will determine your success and future in agriculture.
Write Gregg Hillyer, 2204 Lakeshore Dr., Suite 415, Birmingham, AL 35209, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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