Friday, October 29, 2010

NEED A JOB? Think Agri-Business! by Alan Walsh



Alan Walsh, Owner

Walsh Enterprises, Business & Financial Advisors

Finance & Accounting and Multi-Hat Business Professional

October, 2010

I’ve been saying it for years, and events just continue to prove me out with increasing clarity & intensity. Agri-business is a growth-industry that job-seekers and investors need to investigate carefully.

Population-growth continues, while the quantity of arable land is relatively scarce. Food has become such a critical issue that a poor harvest in one country has ripple-effects around the globe. Investment marketplaces erupt over new crop news. Price increases cause economic spasms; and sometimes riots. People starve for lack of it. It’s a hot topic in political circles; not only regarding quantity, availability, and price; but also for quality and nutritive value. Numerous factors come into play; such as increasingly fished-out oceans, and poorly-used land that becomes unarable.

The demand for food will only continue to grow; and as developing countries go through their industrial revolutions their citizens will gain wealth and want more of everything. Meanwhile, those nations not so fortunate continue to wrestle with hunger & starvation.

Agri-business encompasses just about every business & professional activity one can think of: from basic farm labor –to- food processors, packagers, distributors, sales & marketing people, engineers, scientists & researchers, accountants & administrators, international trade experts, and others. Vast secondary industries exist to provide farm & processing equipment, processing & packaging and storage facilities, refrigeration, transportation, seed, fertilizers, pesticides, and other needs. Technology is being increasingly applied to achieve higher yields and improved production & distribution. The industry needs managers & executives who can innovatively provide greater quantities, of higher quality, distributed more efficiently, at reduced cost; without health-threatening chemicals or poorly-conceived genetic alteration. Those with a bent toward government will find increasing opportunities as this topic intensifies in political & economic importance. Those in academia will find increasing opportunities for research into food-related subjects. As population growth and socio-economic shifts continue, the opportunities will only intensify.

The U.S. will continue to be a major player due to the unique combination of factors that make it a leading producer. With global demand growing, pressure will intensify on the U.S. to feed the world. Developing countries will eventually become more efficient at feeding their own populations; but they’ll be decades behind the U.S. due to our massive lead. Much of the science & technology to bolster their home-grown agri-business will come from developments already used in the U.S. We’ll keep ourselves busy just meeting increased demand; and the related challenges, such as re-enriching stressed farmland. Water availability, and the politics & infrastructure that go with it, will become increasingly hot topics. Water is already shaping up to be a major “hot potato” of the 21st century. Creative minds will be increasingly focused on making unarable land productive. Then there’s all the civil infrastructure necessary to get food from field to table; roads, bridges, power plants, railroads, port facilities, etc. U.S. infrastructure is getting old, and will need replacement & expansion. All of this can only have a positive impact on U.S. agri-business and the economy as a whole.

People in developing countries have an opportunity to be the “tip of the sword” in developing their own countries’ agri-business.

There’s already a vast agri-business infrastructure all around us; and an even bigger infrastructure supporting it. Take a hard look, think creatively, and find a niche for yourself. Lots of bright minds will be needed. Why not be one of them? Those of you who are entrepreneurially-oriented will find opportunities abounding if you just give it some creative thought.

Many of you want to make a contribution to a “greener” world. It doesn’t get any more “green” than this.

After all, what’s more basic to the human condition, and rewarding, than putting good, affordable food on peoples’ tables. We’ve all gotta’ eat!

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