Last week, I attended the annual Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) meeting in Omaha, NE, and it couldn’t have been a nicer time. Not only was the company and food great, but the overall mood among attendees and speakers at the event was as positive as I’ve ever seen.
Now, truth be told, I was a bit worried that the impact of this summer’s drought conditions (and subsequent loss in crop yields) would have put at least a mild damper on the proceedings. But that wasn’t the case. Instead, virtually every speaker and attendee I spoke with said their company sales remained strong and the outlook for 2013 was more of the same.
Perhaps Dr. Jay Lehr, science director for The Heartland Institute and self-proclaimed futurist, said it best during his MACA presentation. “We are in a golden age of agriculture right now and it isn’t going to end for decades,” said Lehr. “People sometimes talk about the light at the end of the tunnel, but right now, I don’t see any dark at the end of the tunnel.”
In all cases, MACA speakers cited that same set of circumstances for keeping agricultural fortunes high at the moment – an ever expanding world population with an appetite for higher protein foods, low interest rates and crop demand from the renewal fuels sector.
Of course, in my mind, there is one other very important reason for how well agriculture is doing despite the presence of a nationwide drought pushing down crop yields – foresight on the part of the grower-customers. Back during the Drought of 1988, many growers suffered mightily from lost crops and never fully recovered. But since that time, carrying crop insurance has become much more the norm in agriculture.
“During 1988, only about 25% of the nation’s growers were covered by crop insurance,” said Ed Lopez, director of marketing for Van Eck Global. “Today, that figure is around 88%.”
So income and demand are both present in today’s agricultural marketplace, with the prospects for the future remaining bright. It’s a good time to be involved in agriculture!