A Moment, To Change

When future ag historians look back on the development of the biofuels movement, I’m certain they will conclude that 2006 was the beginning for what promises to become a much larger agricultural market shift — a Maxwell Moment, if you will.

What’s a Maxwell Moment, you ask? Allow me to explain.

By my definition, a Maxwell Moment is a watershed event in the history of anything — life, business, the world — when things cease being the way they were and start changing into something completely different. Some examples would include the birth of a child, when a company passes the million-dollar sales mark, or the day the U.S. population passed 300 million.

The name comes from my own personal experience with such an event and its cause — a man named Robert Maxwell. After college, I started working at a large corporation — the kind of place you could work at forever given its business scope. Then, a few months into my job, I saw a news report that Maxwell had begun a hostile takeover bid for my employer. To make a long story short, my company successfully fought off the takeover, but not before going so far into debt to do so that hundreds of employees (including myself) lost their jobs. The moment Maxwell began his takeover, my life started down a completely different path.

Ag retail has had its share of Max­well Moments in the past decade — the planting of the first biotech seed, the day GPS became available to the public, glyphosate coming off-patent. From the looks of it, the trend toward bio­fuels has all the earmarks of another one. For one thing, it has become a hot topic very quickly. Checking back through CropLife’s January Outlook 2006 issue, I found no mention of biofuels as a trend to watch. During the past few months, however, you would be hard-pressed not to find dozens of seminars, industry conferences, and special magazine editions focusing in-depth on the topic (including the issue you hold in your hands).

The other reason biofuels appear to have a Maxwell Moment feel about them is how different they could eventually make U.S. agriculture. As ethanol and biodiesel plants spring up across the country, demand for the corn and soybeans to supply them is expected to increase grain prices. According to a 2001 study by USDA’s Office of Energy Policy and New Uses in conjunction with Economic Research Services, an average annual increase of the equivalent of 200 million gallons of biodiesel demand could boost total cash crop receipts by $5.2 billion cumulatively by the end of this decade. This would result in an average net grower income increase of $300 million per year. This undoubtedly will mean more money being spent on such retailer-provided items as fertilizer, biotech seed, and precision services to help growers boost yields and their profits.

The message from all this is clear — retailers should begin preparing today for the potential profits biofuels will bring tomorrow. Your company’s Maxwell Moment is probably coming — more corn acreage, higher demand for certain biotech seeds, or something else tied to biofuels growth.

No matter what the cause, the one thing I’ve found about a Maxwell Mo­ment that remains the same — regardless of situation — is it irreversibly changes things. Are you ready?

Leave a Reply

Latest News
ManagementCorn and soy planting update; Takeaways from Climate Co…
December 2, 2016
AgriBusiness Global Editor Dave Frabotta Joins Paul Schrimpf for a discussion of global corn and soybean planting trends, and a Read More
Radish cover crop taproot
Crop InputsSoil Health Institute, Datu Research Receive Grant To E…
December 1, 2016
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and Datu Research has announced a $626,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to quantify Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
ManagementAg Industry Comes Together To Address Climate Change
December 1, 2016
Addressing climate change — and more specifically, decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture — can only be achieved through collective Read More
Young soybean field
HerbicidesLiquid Formulation Valor EZ Herbicide Available For 201…
December 1, 2016
Valent U.S.A. Corp. has released Valor EZ; a liquid formulation of the company’s leading herbicide, Valor. Named Valor EZ Herbicide Read More
Key Cooperative Marcus Construction Steel Building
ManagementThe Value Of Cooperatives In Modern Agriculture
December 1, 2016
Editor’s Note: Jaxon Mullinnix of  Lone Tree, IA, was recently named the Iowa state winner of the 2017 GROWMARK essay Read More
AGCO Operator of the Year Tony Kornder
SprayersAGCO Names Tony Kornder Operator Of The Year
December 1, 2016
AGCO Corp. names Tony Kornder with Genesis Growing Solutions in Le Sueur, MN, the 11th annual Operator of the Year. Read More
Chris Henney OABA
ManagementOABA Industry Conference To Provide Outlook For Future …
November 29, 2016
The upcoming Ohio AgriBusiness Association Industry Conference is packed with widely-respected speakers and industry professionals, sharing their expertise on a Read More
Corn
InsecticidesMajor Review Finds Neonic Poses Low Risk To Aquatic Inv…
November 28, 2016
A major new ecotoxicological review and risk assessment has been published in the peer-reviewed literature and concluded that registered crop Read More
EquipmentGSI Details New Grain Drying Efficiency System for Coop…
November 28, 2016
Grain elevators and ag co-ops are always looking for ways to increase their energy efficiency to help improve profitability. For Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
AGCO AgControl system
Precision AgPrecision Ag Technology: Rate Control For The Times
November 28, 2016
It’s not surprising that the need for more economical, effective application is driving the demand for the latest rate controllers Read More
ARA
Eric SfiligojTaking The Industry’s Pulse At ARA
November 28, 2016
When most of you read this particular column, many of the industry’s key folks will probably be spending at least Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls …
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
FertilizerNutrient Management, Conservation Among Topics Covered …
November 23, 2016
Certified crop advisers, consultants, farmers, agribusiness professionals and students will learn more about nutrient management, soil and water conservation, pest Read More
Monsanto sign
Crop InputsMissouri Governor Meets With Bayer CEO To Discuss Monsa…
November 21, 2016
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon visited Bayer AG global headquarters in Leverkusen, Germany, on November 18 to discuss the proposed Bayer-Monsanto Read More
Arysta LifeScience
Crop InputsArysta LifeScience Forms Alliance With Beem Biologics
November 21, 2016
As part of its recently announced strategy to become a leader in high-value, high-growth specialty market segments in the crop Read More
DuPont sign
Crop InputsDuPont To End Pension Contribution For Active Employees
November 18, 2016
DuPont will no longer contribute to active employees’ pension plans, a move that will affect the retirement of 13,000 workers, Read More