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Trends, issues, threats, and opportunities affecting farmers

Kent Olson

Agrekon, 2013, vol. 52, issue 4, 148-167

Abstract: Change is always upon us. How we respond is the question. In this talk, I look at the world from a producer's or farmer's perspective in the bigger industry called agriculture. I focus mainly on conditions and trends in the macro-environment, causes of change, and who is making strategic moves. I discuss the trends and issues raised by these questions in terms of what we as economists can do to address them with our research and teaching and as decision makers in farms, businesses, government, non-government organizations, and academia. I start with four large trends and issues: population growth, climate change, the global economy, and energy. I also briefly discuss resource availability, environmental concerns, technology, supply chains, structural change, policy, and smallholder farming. For each issue, I suggest questions and needed analyses that we as economists could address and help farmers and many others deal with these changes and improve the likelihood of a better future. We economists have the tools and ability to help them answer these questions and help them build robust strategies that will allow them to change, survive, and prosper in a world that is always changing.

Date: 2013
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