Hindsight is 2020 but you can’t drive forward looking in the rear view mirror. However, an occasional glance in the past to learn, grow and move ahead with clear goals is an exercise in prudence. As I reflect on the last year and surmise the current climate, I’ve highlighted several trends for 2020.
Technology is the North Star
At AEM’s annual meeting in November, John May, Deere’s CEO, painted a beautiful picture of what farming will look like in the future. And, yes, it is completely predicated on technology. You can watch the video here but note this idealistic portrait isn’t possible without connectivity. Enter 5G and accessibility in all areas including rural spaces. Lobbyists will do their part in making sure farmers all across the US ag community have access in order to bring this ideal to fruition. You can bet your bottom dollar Deere’s Blue River Technology will lead the way as Deere itself is now touting they are a technology company. But we can all heed May’s warning…be wary of who has access to the data, protect your data especially from frenemies (read-foreign interests that will use this data in a negative way).
Boomer and Millennials
But with every new technological advance, collaboration between the established minds of our industry and the new tech based minds of the present is mandated. Marrying the perceived work ethic of the boomers and the millennial’s is one of the greatest challenges we face. Building the right company culture is paramount to success in all companies in the roaring 20’s. Most of us are keenly aware the millennial’s and boomers are the two largest age groups in the workforce and they are challenged to work cohesively. However, for those companies that build bridges and grab the best of both generations, well, you will probably own the market!
We are still challenged to find quality people with such a low unemployment rate, and that won’t change this year. But as the mindset of America is changing and we are allowing kids to pursue their passions, we may create the very labor we so desperately need in the coming generation. The kids that like to work on machines, use their hands and come with a technology mentality; the kids that like to run the machines with joysticks i.e. run autonomous equipment; and the kids that love to program will all find places in our market place in the coming decade.
Clean it up
As GenZ and millenials are motivated and committed to cleaning up our environment, our industry will continue to see an uptick in the amount of wind farms our cranes build, solar panels we place on our chicken houses and the energy efficient buildings and homes we build. Our industry is an instrumental player in this effort! And as we continue to clean up our own emissions and Europe looks to roll out the Tier 5 engine, you can cue the surge of product specialists needed in the coming years.
Whether we are talking about emissions, row crop prices or trade wars, our government will set the tone for our industry. AEM continues to lobby on a local, state and federal level and urges us to do the same. As so many said and echoed at the AEM annual meeting, we may not pass the infrastructure bill on the federal level; however, the future looks bright on the local level. Voters will more likely agree to a tax hike to pay for local bridges, roads, etc. than they will agree to a federal tax hike to build a road they may never utilize. Bottom line, get involved and use your voice to keep our industry rolling ahead!
Despite the negativity our media loves to thrust upon us, the roaring 20’s look bright! Fundamentally, people need to eat. The way we farm may look different in the next year or decade, but rest assured we will still be farming and our technology and machines will make “feeding the world” a real possibility.
We will still build homes and office structures albeit maybe at a slower rate in the coming year or so, but our machines will still be essential in building our world.
As things continue to grow and evolve, our industry will be at the forefront, building, feeding, and energizing our world!