Big Trends in Agriculture: What Ag Will Look Like in 2045.” It was quite a bit of fun, and drew a SRO audience. [caption id="attachment_13487" align="aligncenter" width="550"] “Carroll considers agricultural people to be some of the most innovative, tech savvy, people in the world. Carroll said that the general public remains uninformed about current agricultural practices. He said that many people continue to view farming from the sepia-toned photos of the 1940s and 1950s.”[/caption] Prior to the event, I was interviewed by Spudman Magazine; they ran an article in the daily show newspaper on day 2. It’s a good summary of my thoughts on the agricultural sector. I did cover a lot in terms of trends for agriculture in the future; I’m working to get a video of my keynote. But for now, you might enjoy reading the article. Article: Going fast? The Future Will Be Faster By Bill Schaefer, SpudMan Magazine You have to be fast to succeed in today’s business climate, and you’re going to have to be even faster to succeed in the future. That’s the message Jim Carroll is bringing to his presentation at today’s POTATO EXPO. “My message for the folks in the room is, ‘look there is still a lot more change yet to come and your success is going to come from your ability to ingest that change,’” Carroll said. “The key thing is the rate of change is accelerating, it’s getting faster, so you’re going to have to innovate faster. You’re going to have to pursue those new ideas faster. You’re going to have to try things faster. You’re going to have to keep an open mind faster,” he said in a rapid, staccato beat. Carroll is an author, columnist and consultant, with a focus on linking future trends to innovation and creativity. He is based in Toronto, He is the author of, “The Future Belongs to Those Who are Fast”, “Ready, Set Done: How to Innovate When Faster is the New Fast” and “What I Learned from Frogs in Texas: Saving Your Skin With Forward Thinking Innovation.” Carroll considers agricultural people to be some of the most innovative, tech savvy, people in the world. Carroll said that the general public remains uninformed about current agricultural practices. He said that many people continue to view farming from the sepia-toned photos of the 1940s and 1950s. “They don’t realize how many technological and scientific advances have occurred,” Carroll said. With world population currently estimated at 7.3 billion and projected to be 9.6 billion in 2050 and the increasing demand for better diets in China and India, there’s huge opportunities for those willing to pursue them, Carroll said. “Global food production has to double to keep up with population, that’s a given. There’s little new arable land,” he said. He emphasized that while the farming community has readily incorporated advances such as GPS steering and mobile apps to control irrigation pivots and storage sheds, the changes are coming at an ever faster pace and farmers are going to have to keep up. “I know I’m talking to a very sophisticated, very innovative audience,” Carroll said in anticipation of his appearance at the POTATO EXPO. “But the key message is ‘look, you think you’ve dealt with change so far? Wait until you see what’s coming.’” Carroll maintains that part of the formula for success is to maintain a degree of agility when it comes to making decisions at a time of transition in consumer demand. “New consumer food trends now emerge faster than ever before,” he said. “If you’re anywhere in the food market, you’ve got to be able to respond very quickly.” The days of having two or three years to roll out a new product can be found in the pay-phone booth in front of the video rental store. “You have to have a team that is nimble and can react fast and understand and predict those trends as they’re unfolding,” Carroll said. Carroll said that there’s a quote he often uses at conferences to distill his message . “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity and that’s where you’ve got to be as a producer,” he said.
global food production
So I was on the phone today with the CEO of a major global organization headquartered in Canada. I’ll be opening a leadership meeting for the company in early 2013, and this was a call to begin planning for the structure of my talk.
During the call, comments by Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada about the US economic relationship came up. Clearly, this is a country that is seeing it’s share of challenge due to fast-paced challenges in it’s “special relationship” with the US.
I mentioned to the CEO that as far back as 2009, I was already predicting that Canada would likely have challenges in selling it’s oil in the future into the US market. And many other challenges! And that it would have to re-orient its economy further away from the US and take on much more of a global view!
This was plainly evident to me back then — and look where things are today. What are serious people and politicians and everyday folk in Canada suddenly talking about that no one really took seriously just a year ago?“…a Pacific energy pipeline….” “…. aligning more natural resources and commodities with long term Asian contracts….” “…… a serious free trade relationship with Europe that goes beyond NAFTA.”
With that in mind, I just dug out an old post I wrote way back in 2009 that was written as a bit of a joke at the time — surmising that Canada would see many reasons to reorient it’s global economy in the future. It’s a press release written very much tongue-in-cheek. It was briefly posted to my blog. (I removed it after a short time, since I thought that many people might find it offensive. But back then, it was covered in Bourque.org and a few other breaking-Canadian-news blogs….)
I now find it remarkably prescient, though some of it is still very clearly written for fun. For example, the border wall!
Canada announces end of economic relationship with US, & a bold new strategy to 2020
Ottawa, May 14, 2009
The country of Canada today announced the end of its centuries long relationship with the United States, and a bold new seven-point “Canada Transformed!” strategy that will re-orient its economic, cultural, societal values and innovation engine towards the world economy of 2020.
“It has come to the point that we can no longer rely on the United States as a reliable economic partner,” stated Canada at a news conference. “It is time that we adopt a bold new strategy that will align our economy away from the US, and towards the growth economies of the 21st century in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. As well, we will immediately begin working to enhance our long standing relationships with reliable partner nations in Europe.”
The massive scope of the plan was not lost on Canada in the emotional conference. “We aim to reduce our role of being the largest trading partner with the United States, to becoming a marginal partner at best. We believe that this is the only right way forward.”
Bold new thinking is required Canada spoke bluntly at the news conference of the need for bold new thinking. “Our relationship with the US is one that has become, through no fault of our own, increasingly abusive. We’re honest, faithful, and do our part to provide to the relationship. We have been the largest trading partner to the United States for over a century. And yet, in return, we find ourselves taking on an increasing amount of abuse, neglect, and ever more hostile actions. We’re sad that it must come to an end, but we believe that it is time.”
Canada cited a long list of complaints and grievances, ranging from ongoing trade disputes, “downright hostile treatment” of Canadian citizens by US border guards, and increasingly aggressive use of a “Buy America” policy by state and local governments in the US — despite a promise in Ottawa by President Barak Obama that he did not believe protectionism was the right way forward.
At the press conference, Canada announced a significant 10 year, 7 point plan, branded “Canada Transformed!”, that will re-orient it’s economy away from the United States to the AEA (Asia, Europe and Africa) markets, by the 2020, with a number of key goals:
- Energy & oil: Canada will invest in a massive infrastructure project that will allow it to deliver the bulk of it’s significant energy/oil resources to Asia, Europe and Africa within 5-7 years. The infrastructure project will consist of a number of significant pipeline projects that will direct Canadian oil, natural gas and other energy sources to east and west coast ports, as well as shipping and marine infrastructure, that will provide for a “ocean railway of energy” destined to the AEA countries.”Today, Canada is the largest supplier of energy to the United States. By 2020, Canada aims to provide almost no energy to the US,” noted Canada at the news conference. “We wish them well in their efforts to solve their energy crisis. We do not intend to help them any further.”
- Food & agriculture: Global food production must double to meet world population growth, and Canadian grain, beef, pork and other producers will work to achieve an AEA target market of 90% by 2020. “Quite simply, the rest of the world beyond the US needs a stable, reliable food supplier, and Canada intends to become the leading global brand in that regard.”
- Resources: Canada will seek investment from major Asian and mid-East sovereign wealth funds in an ambitious effort to re-orient the target markets for at least 80% of Canadian mineral commodities to AEA nations by 2015.”Quite simply, Canada has the natural resources — iron, nickel, copper, uranium and just every other type of metal — that the newly industrialized world in Asia needs. As we witness a continued declined in US economic power, particularly in the manufacturing sector, we must ensure that we pursue growth opportunities elsewhere in the world. As China re-industrializes with the economic recovery, we intend to be their partner of choice.“
- Manufacturing: Since the advent of the US-Canada free-trade agreement in 1994, Canada has shared in one of the modern world’s greatest economic successes — the highly integrated Canadian-US manufacturing network supply chain. However, the collapse of the US manufacturing sector, as well as continuous suffocation of the border flow of goods, it is clear that Canada must re-orient itself to the new realities of the 21st century.”A nation does not move forward suffering from the ongoing implementation of economic choke points,” noted Canada. “We will re-align ourselves to economies that believe the way forward is through intelligent, smart-border policies that encourage the free flow of goods and people; not a nation that has a border policy that is driven by politics. We will immediately provide strong incentives for Canadian manufacturers to re-focus on Canadian markets, as well as the establishment of significant new markets in AEA countries. There are over 2 billion people in these markets, and but 280 million in the US.””Clearly, our future lies outside of North America, and we will align our manufacturing sector to this reality.“
- Immigration-based knowledge factories: Canada is the envy of other nations throughout the world for its’ open, welcoming culture towards new immigrants. It plans to build on this reputation by establishing itself as the world’s dominant source for high-level, specialized knowledge expertise in almost every single professional field.”We believe that we are entering the second era of off-shoring,” noted Canada, “with the next wave going far beyond customer support call centers. Nations around the world will need access to high level talent in the fields of medicine and health care, scientific research, agricultural and architectural skills, legal and professional services — and will seek to access that knowledge through the global communications networks that will dominate the economy of the 21st century” said Canada. “We will welcome global knowledge experts in every field of human endeavor to relocate to Canada, enjoy all the attributes that our nation has to offer, and provide their skills to a massive offshore groups of clients in AEA nations. In doing so, we will establish Canada as the global hub for the knowledge economy of the 21st century. Quite simply, Brand Canada will become the most widely recognized phase when it comes to the need for access to knowledge.”
- Immediate border construction: Finally, Canada announced that it would immediately begin construction of border that would prevent unauthorized entry into Canada by US citizens. “We will immediately begin planning construction of a 4,500 mile physical border along our common frontier with the US,” noted Canada. “We increasingly view the US health care system to be in peril — within a decade, some US states will be devoting more than 60% of their GDP to health care. Clearly, many US citizens will plan to flee to Canada to take advantage of our world-class universal health care system. We must prevent this mass migration of Americans into Canada, and believe that significantly enhanced border structures are the only means of doing so.”
At the close of the news conference, Canada stated that it was taking these actions with reluctance, but with conviction that it was the right thing to do.
“Nations have always achieved continued economic success by making bold leaps. We believe, given the continuing deterioration in our relationship with the US, and the ongoing and continued lack of respect that they provide to us, that it is time to move on.”
“Canada is the most resource rich, tolerant, energy abundant, agriculturally advanced, second largest country in the world, with a massive base of skills, energy, commodities, food, and capabilities. We intend to assert our place in the economy of the 21st century with a sense of pride, purpose, and clear direction,” said Canada at the conclusion of the press conference.
“Besides that, we’re just plain nice,” said Canada, blushing, in a closing comment.
“We are excited about our future, and believe that we have made the right decision at the right time for the right purpose. Canada Transformed! will see our nation emerge as one of the leading economies on the world stage by 2020, and we embark on this voyage with a sense of courage, enthusiasm, and certainty as to its’ impact.”
The United States was not immediately available for comment.
Earlier this month, I was down in Amarillo, Texas, where I was the opening keynote speaker for Day 2 of the annual conference of the Texas Cattlefeeders Association.
The event was lined up as the result of another keynote I did in Sonoma County, California last April, where I spoke to a gathering that included “what were probably the top 100 cattle, stockyard and feedlot operators in the US.” I reported on that event in a post, “Agriculture 2020: Innovation, growth & opportunity.”
The common theme to both of these keynotes? There is massive, significant opportunity for global growth in the agricultural sector. While there might be a lot of short term volatility due to the daily twists and turns with the global economy, one undeniable fact remains: global food production has to double over the next several decades to keep up with population growth and increasing food intake, particularly within emerging economies. I’ve found with both of these audiences that there is a relentless sense of optimism, and certainly a pretty significant openness to new ideas and opportunities for innovation. Read the post about “agriculture 2020” and you’ll get a sense of the reasons for their optimism.
That’s why I was fascinated to come across an article (“Future of ag is all about refrigerators“) that appeared in the Farm & Dairy Blog back in October (it’s the official blog for the well known Farm & Dairy Newspaper) that covered my thinking and message in a nutshell:
“We still face a global food market — a world population that stands at 6.9 billion and could reach 7 billion by the end of October.
If those numbers make your head spin and you really feel disconnected from that reality, think about refrigerators instead.
Carroll reminds us, as other have, that the growing population also has a growing segment with greater income, and they will eat more meat. He cites figures that estimate per capita meat consumption growth from 2000 to 2030 of 49 percent in China, 79 percent in India, and 22 percent in Brazil, for example.
And in India, the number one consumer product on an individual’s wish list is a television.
Number two? A refrigerator.
“Right now, refrigerators have only a 13 percent market penetration,” Carroll wrote in a blog post earlier this year.
“Talk about opportunities for growth.”
Sometimes the easiest way to think about future trends is to forget all the fancy analysis, detailed summaries, and simply concentrate on one simple statistic and trend. Most people in the world don’t have a refrigerator. Many want to have one. That fact alone is going to drive agriculture forward at a furious pace.
Farm & Dairy wasn’t the only one to pick up on this theme: over at The Social Silo (“Agriculture gets wired”), an article appeared, “Five Farm Things to Chew On This Week“, which offered up some “food for thought” for those in the agriculture sector.
Their last point? Refrigerators!
We’ve heard so much about world population growth and “who will feed the world,” that we’ve actually become a little distanced from that conversation. But the reality is this: As more people worldwide increase their income and class standing, they will eat more meat. In India, the number one item on wish lists is a television. The second wish? No, not a car, but a refrigerator, says futurist Jim Carroll. “Right now, refrigerators have only a 13 percent market penetration. Talk about opportunities for growth,” Carroll wrote in his blog last spring.
Carroll predicts per capita meat consumption growth from 2000 to 2030 will be 49 percent in China, 79 percent in India, and 22 percent in Brazil.
That alone should give you something to chew on.
Of course, agricultural producers have to balance the reality of growth with innovation in methods involving production, due to growing concerns about sustainability, safety and quality. The Farm & Dairy article went on to observe this issue around innovation.
We’re going to need more food, but we’re going to have to produce it more sustainably. That will take innovation, new ways of thinking, and new ways of farming.
Carroll predicts we’ll see more change on the farm in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 50, and he might be right. Today’s farmer has reinvented himself at least once in his lifetime, and will have to be ready to reinvent his farm again.
Ag entrepreneurs will flourish. The opportunity is there for the future of agriculture. Just open the refrigerator.
I must admit, it certainly is a thrill to work with folks throughout the agriculture sector — I do find this to be one of the most innovative sectors of the population. That might come as a surprise to many people, who often view farmers and ranchers as folks who are stuck in tradition. Nothing could be further from the truth — the sector has come to accept innovation as a core virtue for years.
Indeed, I wrote about this way back in 2005, when I was out there talking to the theme, “I Found the Future in Manure: How to Capitalize on the Rapid Evolution of Science”. Those series of keynotes were based on the very theme of innovation that I was discovering throughout the agriculture sector in the early part of 2000-2001. I even ended up writing an article that made it into my Ready, Set, Done book, called “I found the future in manure!”
One thing I’ve come to appreciate is that farmers and ranchers and those who support them can be some of the most innovative people on the planet. Here’s a video clip from a keynote to a US Military conference in Dallas — yes, the military — and I’m describing to them the unique innovation insight that can be learned from farmers.
If you want to master innovation — then think about refrigerators, and think like a farmer!
- Farm & Dairy: The future of ag is in refrigerators
- Agriculture 2020: Innovation, opportunity and growth
- Farm Progress Magazine: Texas Cattlefeeders will Beef Up in Amarillo
- Food industry trends 2011: Report from a keynote
- Blog post: I found the future in manure
- 2004 article: “I found the future in manure!”