It is that time of year when predictions are made about what 2018 has in store. Given the uncertainty of agriculture I thought I would turn to Carnac the Magnificent for his look into the misty future that awaits us. Some of you may remember Carnac, that great mystic and soothesayer from the east who made regular appearances on the Tonight Show when hosted by Johnny Carson. He would divine the answer to a question that was placed in a hermetically sealed envelope before opening the envelope and reading the question. Since the death of Carson, Carnac has fallen on hard times. So, he was more than willing to turn his powers to looking at the how certain agriculture would fare in 2018.
Answer: “Not a snowball’s chance in hell.” Question: What are the chances that the U.S. will pull out of NAFTA? Let’s face it, while the President is talking tough on trade, there is just too much at stake by all parties for this agreement to fall apart. While the trade deal is vital for agriculture, there are also dozens of other industries on the other side of both borders that would suffer if this deal goes down. There is plenty of things that can yet go wrong, but I agree with Carnac and feel we will see a new NAFTA deal in 2018. With Sonny Perdue and Ted McKinney exerting a good deal of influence in Washington, I feel trade deals will get done although they may look different than they have in the past. The key will be to make sure U.S. Farmers still have an opportunity to grow in any new deals.
Answer: “Stop farming naked.” Question: What will more and more farmers do in 2018? The term “farming naked” refers to the practice of using cover crops. This is a trend that has been growing in the Midwest and, in the past year, has become a far more organized and capitalized effort. More and more research is being done in the area of soil health, and industry best practice standards are being established. Weather and weed pressures have proven to some growers the benefits of using cover crops. While far from being mainstream, this movement within agriculture is becoming evolutionary and will continue to grow in 2018 and beyond.
Answer: “You may kiss the bride.” Question: Will the Bayer/Monsanto merger be approved? With President Trump in the oval office, it is unlikely the U.S. government will make any moves to block this mega-merger. It is also unlikely that the EU will block the corporate nuptials, especially with Bayer having home court advantage being a German company. Before the wedding, however, both parties may be forced to visit the hairdresser and have some of their small divisions lopped off. Long term, this will be a good deal for stockholders; if it will be good for agriculture remains to be seen. What greed has brought together, let no one break asunder.
Answer: “No more GMO.” Question: What are more and more growers telling their seed salesmen? While consumers are slowly coming to terms with GMOs in their food, a small but increasing number of farmers are saying “no thanks” to high-priced, biotech seeds. For most, this is not a philosophical choice but an economic one. With profit margins in the red for the 4th and 5th year, some producers are simply saying they can’t afford all that protection. In 2017 and again in 2018, seed companies are reporting an increase in orders for non-GMO seeds. With corn prices continuing to stay under $4, some farmers are going to look for less expensive and technology-based ways to deal with weeds and insects.
Answer: “Miley Cyrus.” Question: What vegetarian celebrity will be caught eating bacon in 2018? Carnac sees Cyrus, who exposed the world to twerking, caught eating bacon by paparazzi. Other scandals foreseen in the new year include: Wayne Pacelle, head of HSUS, seen kicking a dog after it urinates on his $400 suit and anti-biotech singer Neil Young being exposed for secretly owning a large portfolio of Monsanto stock.
Well, there you have it, a look into future by the legendary Carnac the Magnificent. We will check back with him in a year to see how he did. One thing that I can say for sure, there will be plenty of things to write about in the coming year — so stay tuned.
By Gary Truitt