The Top Line

January 16, 2009 07:39 AM

The Future Influencers

Maybe it was fate. Could the roller-coaster ride of 2008 be a warning shot telling us not to try predicting the future? After all, most advisers in our Top Producer Market Adviser Track Records say the most common mistake their clients make is trying to outguess the market.

That's why, in seeking the individual who will most influence agriculture going forward, the smart money may be on someone unnamed. As Pro Farmer Editor Chip Flory said as we developed our list of the Top 25 people, issues and trends, "The real shapers just seem to emerge out of the chaos and take leadership. So I nominate the unknown person out there." Sounds like a good idea when you consider the chaos that was 2008.

Regardless, it's likely many of the issues that drove the developments of last year will continue to influence the markets.

Population growth will continue to buoy markets, but the weakened worldwide economy will temper that momentum. Ethanol mandates continue to increase, but there is mounting pressure to cut import tariffs on Brazilian cane ethanol, a move that USDA secretary-designate Tom Vilsack supports. These relationships lead to questions about the impact these trends will have.

Have your say. The industry changed before our eyes as the list took shape over the past six months. Is Chip right in predicting we don't even know the person's name yet who will emerge as a major industry leader in the next 25 years? Or is it somebody like Barack Obama? He'll certainly be an influence, but how much, really?

Could self-proclaimed energy expert Sarah Palin emerge as a leader in the GOP and shape ag policy through the energy debate? She didn't make the list, but do you believe she should?

What about the "New" New Deal the Obama administration hopes will bring about major infrastructure development and job creation?

Surely we'll see a push for a green economy, something strongly supported by Obama and the Democratic Congress. How will that impact agriculture markets? What will it mean for your production?

Visit and vote for your favorite, or add one you believe we missed. We'll update the search for #1 on the Top 25 blog, and we'll announce your rankings in the March issue.

Greg Vincent,

Top Producer, January 2009

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