While 2023 was a challenging year for many, there are unique opportunities for forward-thinking businesses in 2024
New Year – while always a fresh start – is often a humdrum time of year. The days are short winter is in full swing, and the hangover of challenges from 2023 are still keenly felt throughout the business of agriculture. Economic uncertainty, rocketing fuel prices and the impact of international conflicts presented challenges as well as opportunities that will continue well into 2024.
But, beyond the doom and gloom, we believe there are many reasons to be cheerful this year. A number of positive trends continue to gather pace, and businesses willing to embrace the data and technology needed to capitalize on them could have a favorable year ahead.
Here we explore the headline agribusiness trends to be aware of in 2024.
Farmers will be demanding a demonstration of real value-add and return on investment for any products and services they spend on in 2024.
Economic Crossroads: Navigating Uncertainty
Economic uncertainty – in many ways the ‘new normal’ of the past decade – still looms large after a year that saw a huge rise in the cost of living and belt tightening across business and consumers alike.
Consumer confidence continues to waver in the face of economic unpredictability, and small businesses find themselves grappling for credit against a backdrop of financial caution. Interest rates, though not expected to plummet to pre-COVID levels, are unlikely to witness a significant cut until mid-year – meaning any spending and investment needs to prove its worth more than ever.
Agriculture is no exception; farmers will be demanding a demonstration of real value-add and return on investment for any products and services they spend on in 2024. Every dollar needs to work hard – and companies equipped to demonstrate value will be ahead of the pack.
The Legislative Landscape: A Glimmer of Hope in the Farm Bill
Amidst the economic haze, a ray of hope emerges with the prospect of the Farm Bill making its way through the legislative corridors. This pivotal piece of legislation, crucial for shaping agricultural policies, could bring stability and support to farmers navigating the choppy waters of economic uncertainty.
While the timing and content of the Bill remains open to speculation, more details will emerge as 2024 progresses. With the Presidential Election on the horizon, by year-end there will be more certainty about what the political future holds after a long period of suspense.
Consumer consciousness about the environmental impact of food grows ever-stronger – and will continue to be a major focus for producers this year.
Sustainability Takes Center Stage: Measuring the Green Footprint
Consumer consciousness about the environmental impact of food grows ever-stronger – and will continue to be a major focus for producers this year. Sustainability in agriculture is not new – but will be front and center of agricultural trends in 2024.
The focus on sustainable practices and their meticulous measurement will continue to be a major challenge this year. Farmers are increasingly called upon to demonstrate their commitment to eco-friendly agriculture, with an emphasis on reducing carbon footprints and adopting environmentally responsible practices. Producers who invest in technology to prove credentials on this topic may beat their competition – the first grain growers to master this will be in high demand.
The great news is sustainable agriculture is making its way into U.S. policy and regulations – with support available to encourage progress. Programs such as the Farmers for Soil Health program and the 45Z Clean Fuel Production Credit are great examples of the government softening the possible economic downside of growing with the lower carbon impact. This is a change that’s here to stay.
Technological Frontiers: Innovation and Automation
The wheels of progress in agriculture are turning, powered by the relentless march of technology. The Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and precision farming are set to experience continued growth. Automation, a stalwart companion to modern farming, will become increasingly integrated into agricultural practices, streamlining operations and enhancing efficiency. This trend is set to continue in 2024, as technology evolves and improves.
For agribusiness, the opportunities to work with AI are far-reaching, if not always obvious. Working with AI creates a new frontier for operations – in a less visible way than robotic harvests, but no less powerful. The use of AI is a new frontier for growers, and when applied correctly can increase the efficiency of how seeds and inputs are formulated, developed, sourced and applied. Early adopters will reap rewards.
The Changing Face of Agriculture: Young Blood and Tech Savvy Innovators
It’s no secret that the demographic composition of the farming community is undergoing a shift – and will continue to do so this year. The aging farming population is making way for a wave of younger, tech-savvy individuals. As the torch passes to the next generation, agricultural innovation and technology are likely to grow rapidly.
Data: The (not so) New Currency
In this era of agricultural evolution, data emerges as the most important currency. This year, more than ever before, businesses putting data at the heart of their strategy will realize a competitive advantage.
The agricultural sector must use the power of data to remain competitive and sustainable.
Data-driven decision-making quite simply leads to better results. Whether it’s optimizing crop yields with the help of detailed weather data, monitoring environmental impact with detailed carbon emission data, or fine-tuning market strategies with live commodity market data and analysis, the agricultural sector must use the power of data to remain competitive and sustainable.
In these uncertain economic times, when every dollar matters, agribusinesses and farmers who invest in better data this year will remain competitive, and ensure a sustainable future.
Learn more about agribusiness solutions available from DTN to make 2024 your best year yet.