The Top Story of 2018: Let the Speculation Begin!
Now that 2017 is finally wrapping up, it seems as if we are at the end of an era, of sorts. For the past few years, the ongoing consolidation among some of the largest fertilizer and crop protection/seed companies has largely dominated agricultural headlines and water cooler conversations. But with only Bayer and Monsanto left to officially “tie the knot” in early 2018, the market will likely to open to a new “big” story for 2018.
But what will this be? Here are a few likely candidates.
Dicamba. No one will deny that the introduction of dicamba-resistant crops was a headline-grabber throughout 2017. Thousands of complaints rolled into state ag offices from growers claiming off-target application. Several states, including Arkansas, Missouri, and Minnesota introduced restrictions on usage. Suppliers fought back with lawsuits. Obviously, more the same is possible in 2018.
Further Consolidation. Now that suppliers have finished consolidating, many observers expect the domino effect to continue for ag retailers. In fact, projections are that another 100 or so cooperatives will merge between now and the end of 2020.
Soybean Plantings Outpace Corn. USDA projections show that corn acreage in 2018 should maintain a slight edge over soybeans. However, with higher commodity prices and lower input costs, these same numbers predict that this won’t remain the case much past 2018, with soybeans acreage eventually taking the lead. How will the industry adapt a new king crop in the U.S.? Only time will tell . . .
Something Else Entirely? Finally, all three of these potential “stories of the year” could be supplanted by something altogether different that crops up during the 2018 growing season. Possible candidates would be weather (too dry or too wet), the continued growth of alternative distributors (such as Farmers Business Network), or the specifics of the 2018 Farm Bill.
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess what kind of year 2018 will end up being for agriculture. But as we get ready to celebrate the coming of another new year, let the speculation begin in earnest!