Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Signs of Spring: Ag Optimism

Submitted by Carl Casale, CHS Inc.

Spring, and with it Ag Day, naturally lends itself to looking ahead—to new crops and new opportunities for U.S. agriculture.

In 2012, the severe drought across much of the U.S. challenged farmers and those of us who serve them. None of us can predict the impact of inevitable challenges like weather, political decisions, global unrest, or other factors as 2013 unfolds. But whatever transpires, I’m convinced there are five good reasons to forecast bright long-term prospects for U.S. agriculture:
  1. Global population growth, particularly among the Chinese middle class, will continue to drive food demand, especially for meat-based protein.
  2.  Energy production, essential to raising crops and moving them to market, has returned home as new technologies unlock access to crude oil and natural gas supplies in North Dakota’s Bakken and other regions.
  3. Fertilizer production is heading home, too, thanks to abundant, affordable natural gas. Plans are in the works for the first nitrogen fertilizer plants to be built in the U.S., including one under consideration by CHS at Spiritwood, N.D., to provide U.S. farmers with increased dependable supply.
  4. The majority of U.S. producers and agricultural companies are economically strong and agronomic/seed advances helped many producers harvest a 2012 crop in dry conditions.
  5. New, well-educated generations are returning to the farm, armed with technical know-how and enthusiasm for the future.
New growth is clearly in the forecast, no matter what short-term challenges we face. At CHS, we look forward to helping our producer and cooperative owners—and all of agriculture—make the most of the opportunities ahead.