A Top Producer Staff Report…It's difficult to predict who or what will shake out as agriculture's biggest influences and influencers in the coming years, but we identify some that will surely have an impact on your business.
He'll Touch Them All
As Barack Obama enters the White House this month, he faces some of the greatest challenges of any new President in modern history. He promises new government work programs, and the decisions he makes will alter our economic course.
Six months ago, the new President would certainly have been on the list, but probably not as the most influential person. Now we're looking at the most significant policy changes since Roosevelt's New Deal. Obama has an electoral mandate, a Democratic Congress and an American public wanting out of this economic mess.
Effect on agriculture.
He supports ethanol, but his designated Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, called for ending tariffs on foreign ethanol imports during his own, albeit short-lived, presidential run.
Among the biggest concerns for agriculture is Obama's stance on trade. He is on record as saying the North American Free Trade Agreement needs to be renegotiated. With agriculture exporting 25% of what it produces, trade channels need to stay open.
The economy, environment, energy and transportation: Obama will touch them all and his decisions will impact U.S. agriculture for years to come.
The Green Revolution
Green is red-hot.
Living green is taught in schools, it's preached in daily life and the economy is shifting in its direction. The move to a Green Economy tops our list of trends and issues.
This represents a lot of money and huge potential for agriculture. People actually buy reusable grocery bags. TV networks promote greenness to get a ratings boost during sweeps week.
Best-selling author Thomas L. Friedman writes in his book Hot, Flat, and Crowded, that this movement can provide a new national goal—something the U.S. hasn't had since we aimed to put a man on the moon 40 years ago. He also says our country has the responsibility to lead, as we did in the Space Race. It can restore our place in the world.
Well-funded nongovernmental organizations are stoking this fire. They're organized and they evoke emotion. Compound that with the groundswell of support for adopting all things green and you see why policymakers are getting behind this issue.
Whether you're Democrat or Republican, hippie or neocon, just follow the money. This money train is leaving, and there are several seats open for agriculture. The industry needs to climb aboard.
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Top Producer, January 2009