JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—James Wiesemeyer, senior vice president, Informa Economics, Washington, D.C., calls himself an optimist at heart, but he always has some concerns when it comes to how the federal government isn’t functioning in a reasonable manner with negotiations and compromise among the political parties.

Wiesemeyer went through a laundry list of what to look out for in the coming four years and longer during his keynote presentation to members of the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants at their annual meeting on Jan. 24 in Jacksonville, Fla.

The takeaways from his presentation were predictions and questions as he summed them up in bullet points plus comments. The following are points and quotes from Wiesemeyer.

  • Will Obama, or Republicans, overreach?
  • Most second terms are not robust in accomplishments.
  • Most second terms are not robust with accomplishments when you look back in history.
  • Watch for use of executive orders if partisan discord returns.
  • Watch the use of executive orders by Obama if he can’t get much through Congress. He has used executive orders more than any president that I’ve covered in my lifetime.
  • Foreign policy issues usually prevail in a Presidents’ second term.
  • Foreign policy issues usually prevail in a president’s second term—think North Korea, think Iran, think Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.
  • Major U.S. tax reform coming…big impacts for businesses/farmers.
  • Major tax reform is coming but its not going to be any time too soon. There are more lawyers per square inch in Washington, D.C., and lobbyists; so this will take some time.
  • Changing U.S., world energy sector to have major implications.
  • The changing U.S. energy sector is already having major implications, and I think it will aid agriculture in the long run. And you are going to see the use of natural gas in farm equipment in the years ahead; it should be there now, but is coming, trust me.
  • U.S. immigration reform is coming.
  • U.S. crop insurance will come under focus—means testing ahead?
  • Rise of middle classes in developing countries will bolster world agriculture.

He also provided “what ifs” that he said hopefully will not come true—or at least not most of them—but could cause major shifts in the U.S. agriculture economy and world economy plus push the government into reaction mode. A couple of the what ifs are completely on the heads of congressional members. What if:

  • Washington doesn’t deal with debt, spending?
  • Europe’s economy goes into severe recession?
  • The U.S. economy grows more than expected (impact on the dollar and trade and higher interest rates causing a major increase in the interest on the U.S. debt)?
  • U.S., Eastern Europe has another drought (livestock production move outside the U.S.)?
  • China imports corn to a significantly large degree (feeding many more hogs than the U.S.)?
  • U.S. corn yields exceed trend-line levels (farmers want to grow corn)?
  • There is a major Israel-Iran skirmish/war?
  • Means testing comes to crop insurance benefits (urban congressional members questioning “shallow-loss safety net.”)?

Yet another list of nine factors impacting U.S., global food and agricultural markets over the next decade are simple descriptions of what Wiesemeyer says needs to be considered. He doesn’t speculate, in general, about the degree of change, but they all have future impact.

  • Global growth and rise of “middle class” in developing countries.
  • Value of the U.S. dollar.
  • Worldwide biofuel production.
  • Role of trade and trade liberalization.
  • Energy and agricultural import prices.
  • Biotech and other yield/precision developments.
  • Additional crop land into production—Brazil, Ukraine, Africa.