Are We Crazy?

Are We Crazy?

At some point in the first few months of my employment here at CropLife® magazine, I started getting curious about the editorial voices across our markets. So I started turning to the back page editorials of our various titles for some instruction.

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We had a number of long-time seasoned editors at the time, so they were all well-written and compelling. But the ones that most immediately caught my eye and demanded to be read were from Bill Spencer, then editor of our sister publication, Cotton Grower®.

He came across like a college professor in person, but his editorials always had bite. Two all-time favorites around here were “China Must Be Stopped,” a commentary on some of the unsavory trade practices of arguably our most challenging trade partner, and “Are We Crazy?” Who can’t pick up an editorial with that kind of verbal punch in the face?

The title came to mind this week as I’ve been wrapping up a number of things we’re working on. PrecisionAg Media, our sister brand, has two conferences on the docket. The first, a continuation of our one-day Innovation Series, was held late last month. And the second, the PrecisionAg Vision Conference, is slated for October 18-20 in Phoenix, AZ.

The Vision Conference has been at the center of our existence for most of this year, as you would expect for a first time event. Fortunately, interest is very high, and we feel great that we’re bringing together a unique mix of agriculture industry managers, tech company representatives and national experts on technology trends. There’s going to be a lot of amazing networking and learning.

But it has not been without its challenges. There’s a lot in flux when it comes to technology both inside and outside of agriculture. At the InfoAg Conference we attended early last month, the phrase that kept popping into my head was, “There’s an awful lot of hammers in this room, searching for nails.” So many different technology tools and strategies, and so little of it tethered to the integrated farming operation experience. Are We Crazy?

It’s great that there is so much interest in agriculture, despite the plethora of companies vying for the farmer’s attention. Seeing ongoing innovation being developed and released is definitely better than the alternative.

But, perhaps in a nick of time, the projected bumper crop in corn and soybeans on top of a stellar wheat crop (that’s literally busting bins all over the country — Are We Crazy?) should serve as a reset button to irrational exuberance and misspent investment. The months from post-harvest to spring planting could be interesting.

Then, we have the megamergers in the crop protection market complicating relationships with our supplier partners. As well as the consolidation of, in particular, mid-sized cooperatives as retailers work to increase scale and improve the likelihood of business sustainability.

Finally, we can’t lose sight of recent efforts by certain online organizations to circumvent the retail channel on crop protection products. They are talking about adding fertilizer, too. Your service, your dedication to the local communities you serve, your commitment to safe, compliant storage and application — these things mean a lot to growers, even if they sometimes seem to enjoy squeezing the channel.

Are We Crazy? Probably a little. But despite the blips, we are fully behind the channel and the tremendous value you all bring to agriculture.