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
Golden Harvest Corn healthy leaves
Paul SchrimpfBuilding Relationships With Farmers During Tough Times
October 9, 2015
“So, other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” Most of you I’m sure will recognize this as one Read More
Industry NewsResponsibleAg Selects New Executive Director
October 9, 2015
The ResponsibleAg Board of Directors today announced the selection of Bill Qualls, CPEA, as the organization’s new Executive Director. “We Read More
MRM Agricultural Service
CropLife 100Pinnacle Acquires CropLife 100 Ag Retailer
October 8, 2015
Pinnacle Agriculture Holdings, LLC has successfully acquired the Missouri-based agronomy business of MRM Agricultural Service, LLC and its affiliates (MRM). Operating Read More
HerbicidesMarestail, Hemlock Focus Of Fall Herbicide Application …
October 8, 2015
With the grain harvest progressing on or ahead of schedule in most parts of Indiana, no-till producers should start thinking Read More
Prairieland FS employees
EmployeesA New Approach To Employee Retention
October 8, 2015
Long gone are the days when the term “career” implied to 30-plus years with a single employer. In the past, Read More
Crop InputsNew Bionematicide Meets Large Market Need
October 8, 2015
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI), a leading provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products for the agriculture, turf Read More
Industry NewsTessenderlo Kerley Completes New California Manufacturi…
October 8, 2015
Crop Vitality, a business unit of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc. (TKI), the North American subsidiary of Brussels-based Tessenderlo Group, and the Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
HerbicidesNew DuPont Herbicide Gives Updated Burndown Options For…
October 8, 2015
Soybean growers seeking flexible, effective broadleaf weed control have another option to add to their toolboxes. DuPont Canopy Blend herbicide Read More
EquipmentDeere Announces New API Linking Operations Center With …
October 8, 2015
Deere & Co. and DN2K have agreed to form SageInsights — a joint venture to initially serve the agriculture industry Read More
Crop InputsDuPont, Caribou Biosciences Form Strategic Alliance
October 8, 2015
DuPont and Caribou Biosciences, a leading developer of CRISPR-Cas technologies for genome editing, jointly announced a strategic alliance. As part Read More
ManagementStoller Field Trip and Upcoming Events
October 8, 2015
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss a recent Stoller Field Day, the 2015 PACE Council Meeting and another event Read More
EmployeesSyngenta First Agriculture Company To Receive Fair Labo…
October 8, 2015
Syngenta has announced that it has become the first agriculture company to receive accreditation from the Fair Labor Association (FLA). Read More
Eric Jenks, Wilbur-Ellis
CropLife 100Wilbur-Ellis Opens Dry Fertilizer Storage And Blending …
October 8, 2015
Wilbur-Ellis Co., ranked No. 4 on the CropLife 100, has constructed and opened a 22,000-ton dry fertilizer storage and blending Read More
Fall Harvest
Crop Inputs360 Yield Center: Tips For Fall N Application Season
October 7, 2015
Harvest is underway and soon farmers will start setting the stage for the 2016 season. For many, that means applying Read More
Ag retailer at computer
Matt Hopkins5 Lessons Learned From Launching An Agricultural Data B…
October 7, 2015
Like many other industries, agriculture has witnessed big data rocket up the corporate agenda. And as an ag media company, Read More
Tom Vilsack
CropLife 100USDA: Ag Retailers Posted Record Income, Revenues In 20…
October 7, 2015
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the nation’s farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record income and revenue in Read More
FungicidesNew Corn Disease Confirmed In Illinois
October 7, 2015
Symptomatic corn leaf samples from Champaign County, IL, have been confirmed positive for the bacterium Burkholderia andropogonis (Pseudomonas adropogonis (Smith) Read More
Crop InputsBASF Expands Production Capacities Of Biological Soluti…
October 7, 2015
With the opening of its expanded Littlehampton, UK production site, BASF is strengthening its ability to sustainably meet the growing Read More