Big changes are coming to the family farm over the next 12 years as the world grows more interconnected, computer management tools grow more useful, and farmers get much closer to the consumer. One thing remains the same: corn will be king when it comes to crops grown in the U.S.
Rich Kottmeyer, senior executive and global agriculture and food production leader, Accenture, presented a revealing look at what farming might look like in 2025 based on trends his company already sees today. Kottmeyer spoke at the Bayer CropScience Ag Issues Forum in Orlando, Fla.
Corn will be the top crop raised in 2025," Kottmeyer says. "If you can get 200 bu. an acre corn and 15,000 plants in an acre….you simply can’t beat corn. Behind that is soybeans. So it hasn’t changed much."
He predicted a future in which Europe will accept GMOs. They will see that it benefits the consumer in the form of lower food prices. This will also be an issue of sustainability.
"By 2050, more than half of the world will be in the middle class who aren’t there today," says Kottmeyer. "Children are likely to grow up in a world where systemic poverty is receding. These days poverty is more likely to be about political structure and cultural issues versus supply."
The world is increasingly moving from food security to food quality. In 2025, people are talking about convenience, quality, variety and availability, 24/7. "We have to transform agriculture from a commodity to value-added product. We have to change," he says.
Kottmeyer thinks the U.S. will continue to under-invest in infrastructure, building for today, rather than tomorrow. The U.S. economy won’t be as big as China’s, and India’s will be nearly as big, he adds. Also, there will be a far bigger middle class population, but the poor will find it even harder to buy food, because food prices will continue rising.
At the farm level, he says farmers, unwilling to get their kids to help farm, will look to the inner city for farmhands. The future farm, he says, will be much more racial integrated.
Data will become a marketable commodity, Kottmeyer predicts. Data will become a profit center for the producer. There will be a revolution in how farmers use information. Farm managers will enjoy simple information tools based on complicated data bases. "We’ll have satellites in the sky, sensors in the ground, and economic models that will calculate a return on investment for any farm decision.
Kottmeyer warns that data can’t do it alone – agriculture must find the next revolution in productivity.
"We need a revolution," he says. "It must be a science-based revolution."