One reason I have been seemingly brutal when answering hopeful young farmer wannabees about how to make it in the Bigs today is the conviction we are just beginning to unleash the forces of technological productivity advances. In short, we're about to send more machines to do men's jobs. And the people we do employ may not look like typical ag college graduates.
And to do that we're going to need a profession filled with specialists: finance, management, technicians, even (gasp) public relations. [Did you note that BTO poster boy, Rick Rosentretter employs people simply to source rented acres?] These folks will earn their living with knowledge skills. And that puts us in common with the rest of the world.
The central process driving this is not globalization. It’s the skills revolution. We’re moving into a more demanding cognitive age. In order to thrive, people are compelled to become better at absorbing, processing and combining information. This is happening in localized and globalized sectors, and it would be happening even if you tore up every free trade deal ever inked.We are seeing many formerly in-house tasks like machinery maintenance increasingly outsourced, finances handled by the family accountant, marketing by the hired guru - I think the list is growing. This trend can only go so far before the farmer becomes little more than a general contractor - and is entitled to only an appropriate slice of the farm profits.
The globalization paradigm emphasizes the fact that information can now travel 15,000 miles in an instant. But the most important part of information’s journey is the last few inches — the space between a person’s eyes or ears and the various regions of the brain. Does the individual have the capacity to understand the information? Does he or she have the training to exploit it? Are there cultural assumptions that distort the way it is perceived? [More]
The next big boost I believe will bring all these skills in-house, which will require operations large enough to employ them essentially full-time. If you want to know where the BTO's are picking up profit gains that's one big area. As vendors realize we have money to spend, their margins are expanding with their pricing power. It's good to be a machinery dealer right now, for example.
Farmers will have to stop outsourcing profit possibilities because it doesn't fit our job description. That's what David Brooks is talking about, I think - and he's talking to us too.