5 Agriculture Trends You Need to Know
03.17.21 Jena Swanson
Keep a pulse on issues facing farmers with the top five agriculture trends to watch:
1. High feed prices
During the fall, a rally in grain prices that has continued into 2021 was great news for row crop farmers and an unwelcome sight for livestock producers. Crop commodities like corn and soybeans surged in price by 46.19% and 57.43%, respectively, in a year from March 4, 2020.
If commodity crop prices continue to trend upwards and livestock prices hold, the expense to care for livestock could keep profitability at or below breakeven, forcing some ration changes to less efficient and lower-priced feedstuffs and, worst-case scenario, producers exiting the business.
2. Sustainability and environmental stewardship
Environmental impact and sustainability practices are critical topics for both farmers and consumers. These areas and overall ag policy outcomes are heavily dependent on and shaped by newly elected representatives.
The House Agricultural Committee is starting conversations on the role of agriculture in mitigating climate change. USDA is looking into establishing a carbon bank under the Commodity Credit Corporation, and The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance brought together environmental, agricultural and food groups to agree on three guiding principles and offer 40 recommendations to Congress as it moves forward on establishing any legislative approach.
3. Shifting consumer habits and expectations
Consumers continue to place greater emphasis on the agriculture and food industry to be transparent about their sustainability initiatives — not just environmental initiatives but also economic and social initiatives. As consumer habits and expectations continue to evolve, the desire to have more local and personal connections to food sources increases.
4. Trade and market access
Strengthening agricultural exports through fair trade deals is an important topic for all agriculture sectors and will remain important for 2021. The Biden administration announced it’s suspending some tariffs on the United Kingdom as the U.S. seeks allies to counter growing threats from “non-market economies” like China.
While the impact of the U.S. lifting tariffs on some British products may have little effect on American farmers, it shows the Biden administration is following through on promises to amass the support of allies before it confronts China, which currently maintains billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on U.S. agricultural commodities.
5. COVID’s impact on business relationships
The most successful businesses and companies break the mold by implementing new, innovative strategies to bypass virtual fatigue and reach farmers. This comes in the form of interactive booths at virtual events, increased focus on ecommerce, launching podcasts/webinars, re-evaluating the sales process, technical expert access and demanding more options from current partnerships with publications and media sources. As the pandemic slowly fades away, brands should look for ways they can make the customer experience better than it was before by creating their own rules to engage with farmers.