It’s widely recognized that farms are getting larger and are being managed in an entirely different manner than they were even 10 years ago. But what will farmers look like 30 years from now?
They may not know how to drive a tractor
How would you sell a tractor to someone who has never driven one? We are already seeing an influx of new farmers taking over the land. They are stockbrokers, scientists, accountants and even people (or governments) from other countries. All of whom have something in common; they understand current population trends, and see an opportunity to profit from one of the few basic human needs – food! They may have never even sat in a tractor seat, or farmed an acre of land. The actual farming is left up to professional managers – but these new owners will have significant influence over purchasing decisions.
They will trade in the ATV for a computer
Traditional crop tours, such as the Sunday drive with the family to show off that killer wheat crop will likely be replaced with a virtual tour via computer and the work of very sophisticated thermal imagery. ATVs currently used to reach every corner of an inaccessible acre may be replaced by laptops that allow farmers to monitor their crops, track weed pressure and evaluate herbicide performance from across the road – or around the world.
They will hold increasing power
With the global demand for food needing to double in the next 30 to 50 years, farmers will become fewer, larger and more powerful. They will have greater influence to dictate where research resources will be utilized, how products are distributed and marketed and even which products are brought to market.
They will define relationships
Farm owners of the future will be more like CEOs than the farmers we know today. They will be open to new ideas and new products. Generic products will continue to play an important role in the marketplace of tomorrow, but farmers will also be willing to pay a higher price for new and innovative products that increase productivity in new and different ways. Therefore, expect an environment where commodity-driven and research-based companies can co-exist.
They will make money
Power equals money. With farmers holding more cards, they will be better able to negotiate input and commodity pricing. In 30 years, farming could very well be one of the highest paid professions in North America.
Successful ag marketers will be the ones who are able to look at, listen to and learn from their evolving customer – the farmers who can’t operate a tractor.