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June 04, 2019

Technology and globalization are creating enormous changes in society overall and farms are not immune. Nature itself is also creating shifts that impact agriculture, including global warming and overpopulation. There are a variety of global and environmental shifts that are influencing 2019's agriculture industry trends.

7 Agriculture Industry Trends for 2019

Agriculture technology farmer man using tablet computer analysis data and visual icon.

These agriculture industry trends aren’t the only big changes, but a good place to start in understanding challenges and opportunities for farm owners, managers, and workers in the next decade and beyond.

1. Automated farm technology

Automated watering systems, powerful two-way radios, GPS precision farming, and drones are revolutionizing farming and leading the changes in the agricultural industry. Imagine herding sheep with a drone…well, it’s here. Border collies are still a lot better at it, but a smart enough drone will eventually put those adorable and tireless dogs out of work.

Technology will have a significant impact on short and long-term decisions made by farmers.

2. Young farmers are becoming owners

You're probably familiar with stories of huge farming conglomerates buying up smaller family-run operations. This trend is still occurring but, surprisingly, is slowing down somewhat as younger farmers are driven to work smaller farms.

3. Environmentalism rises

The earth’s environment is a hot topic these days with issues like declining bee populations, drought, and more extreme natural disasters. As a result of the growing list of environmental problems, environmentalists are becoming a strong voice in shaping agricultural industry trends and policy making.

4. GMO policies and politics

Farmer holding fresh tomatoes at sunset. Food, vegetables, agriculture industry trends

The term “GMO” causes a lot of controversy, and has increasingly become the way food is produced. State and federal laws constrain large farms that grow GMO crops, while consumers protest. Labeling, for example, is often mandatory and that puts a burden on farmers. Expect GMO companies to continue appealing, and advertising, to the public to turn the tide in their favor.

5. Crop specialization

To make it in today’s “large farm” game, small farmers increasingly turn toward niche crops or methods. Organic farming continues to be a productive option, while some farmers focus on high-starch corn or other reliable crops.

In 1982, over a third of farms produced corn but 25 years later, less than a quarter of them do. This shift is due to large farms taking over crops such as corn, soybeans, etc.

6. Global warming impacts

The global temperature is rising at an alarming rate. Despite widespread controversy, this issue isn’t going away. For every 1.5 degrees the planet heats up, crop yield drops by 10%. In some areas, such as the “breadbasket” of the US (the Midwestern states) water is becoming an issue. The huge Oglalla aquifer is on schedule to be 70% depleted in the near future and since it supplies almost a third of US groundwater, that is an agricultural industry trend farmers should be aware of.

7. Meat consumption demographics

While the world’s human population grows, the U.S. has managed to curb its meat consumption somewhat (down approximately 8% from 2007-2013). Yet other countries are eating more beef and poultry. In fact, the global trend is for a 15% rise in meat consumption. These demographics mean the U.S. keeps producing oil-seeds and grains for feed, but how meat is produced may shift to synthetic options, and other countries may need to import meat.

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