For the past 20 years each fall, CropLife magazine has held its annual PACE meeting event in Chicago, IL. This special gathering brings together key industry executives, trade association heads, major ag retailer representatives and various industry analysts for a day-long discussion on all things related to agriculture and its future.
As for me, I’ve attended this event since 2001 and it is always one of the highlights of my calendar year. Not only do I get to talk one-on-one with many of the key players in the agricultural marketplace but I tend to gain valuable insights into how things are playing out in the overall ag industry in general.
This year was no exception.
For the most part, PACE meeting attendees were cautiously optimistic that 2014 will be another good economic year for agriculture. However, most everyone believed that some kind of a down cycle would be appearing sooner as opposed to later.
“Our orders for the first and second quarters of 2014 are strong right now,” said one attendee. “After that, it’s anybody’s guess.”
However, not everyone thought economic factors would be the key to success or failure in 2014. Many speakers thought that increased scrutiny on agriculture in the wake of the West, TX, fertilizer plant disaster or ongoing attacks on biotech crop use could dampen agricultural fortunes. A few also mentioned uninformed suppliers/distributors dictating sustainability terms to growers could negatively impact the market.
“We in this room and our respective companies will have to keep a close eye on all these developments,” concluded one PACE meeting attendee. “Otherwise, 2014 may be remembered as the year we lost our ability to keep agriculture profitable and thriving for all of us.”
I couldn’t agree more.