Farming & Food Production

What futurists (or “futurologists”) do is to help people plan and prepare for the future, as opposed to offer predictions about the future. This can involve looking at future trends, notably about new technologies and technology trends, and a lot more besides.

If you’re looking for a conference speaker, a keynote speaker, or a workshop presenter or facilitator on this topic, the examples below represent some of the keynote speeches or workshop presentations I’ve given as a futurist speaker in the past. But each presentation is created specifically to suit your needs. If you don’t see a presentation about the future that would work for your conference, by all means contact me, and we’ll see if we can create one specifically for you.

Risk Management and the Family Farm: The Future of Farms and Farming

The individual farmer faces both more challenges, and more opportunities than any time since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Richard Worzel is a strategic planner, one of today’s leading futurists, and a frequent speaker on agricultural trends and the changes we face.

In this focused overview of the world in which individual farmers must compete, Richard assess both the risks to be managed, and offers a set of tools for increasing your success in doing so. Among the topics he covers are:

  • The rise of global, corporate, and factory farms, plus the emergence of agricultural producers in emerging countries increases the pressure of competition in virtually all agricultural commodities. Yet, that very pressure opens niches that can be very valuable, and much harder for commodity producers to address.
  • Climate change is affecting all aspects of farming, introducing new pests that need to be fought, changed growing seasons to be managed, dramatically increasing the need to husband water resources, and affecting markets here and around the world. This can devastate the unwary, but allows the nimble producer to exploit the lesser foresight of his competitors.
  • Farmers have traditionally made their money from the Three Fs: Food, Feed, and Fiber. But now there are three additional Fs that can provide completely new revenue streams to farmers willing to step outside traditional boundaries, and exploit these new ways of cashing in.
  • Meanwhile, the rise of nutriceuticals, and the rapidly rising knowledge and awareness of individual differences among consumers is pushing the marketplace towards customized food. This is a problem for corporate producers, but can be a tremendous opportunity for the individual farmer who exploits it.
  • And increasingly, farmers need to consider their end-game. There’s a generational change going on as boomer farmers are looking towards retirement, yet their children, while they love the lifestyle, aren’t keen to step into the furrows. At the same time, there’s a trend towards agricultural imperialism, with sovereign and pension funds buying up farmland around the world as investments, and for food security. Being aware of these developments gives farmers additional alternatives.

Richard not only uncovers the changes ahead for farmers, and surveys the possibilities and problems, but provides a toolkit of strategic planning tools that allows you to capture uncertainty, and turn it to advantage. You’ll walk away with a greater awareness of what’s ahead, and better prepared to profit from the changes to come.

Technology on the Farm: The Future of Farmers, Farm Equipment, and Farming Methods

The recent rise in agricultural prices is not a short-term blip, but a long-term development that is creating a shift in the economics of farming not seen since the end of World War II. Richard Worzel is a Chartered Financial Analyst, a strategic planner, and one of today’s leading futurists. In this overview of what’s ahead for farmers and their suppliers, he touches on:

  • The three new sources of revenue emerging for farmers as a result of the biotech revolution, changing the Three F’s of farming (‘Food, Feed, and Fiber’) into the Six F’s;
  • What’s happening to the global demand for food, and why it’s permanent, not temporary;
  • Why the technological advances of the past 20 years will seem tame in comparison to the changes to come over the next 10, and what this implies for farming methods and farm equipment;
  • Why water is going to be a major stumbling block and issue for everyone, but especially for farmers, and why equipment manufacturers and dealers will need to get involved in the issue; and
  • What are the ‘black swans’, or unforeseen developemnts on our horizon, and what risks do they pose to governments, suppliers, and farmers.

Richard’s presentation will give you a much better idea of the landscape of the future for farmers and those who support and supply them, plus a set of planning tools that will help you capture the uncertainties of the future, and turn them to your advantage.

Sunrise: The Dawn of a New Era in Agriculture

The world has changed, and the effects on the future of farmers, their suppliers, and agricultural communities generally will be profound. Richard Worzel is one of today’s leading futurists, and in this far-reaching overview of tomorrow’s landscape, he focuses on the factors that are going to create a new era in agriculture, including:

  • The emergence of huge new middle classes in developing countries like China, India, Brazil, and elsewhere, that will drive up the demand for food well beyond anything we’ve seen in decades;
  • New market niches for specialty foods arising from our ever-expanding knowledge of human genetics; and
  • Biotechnology, which is creating three entirely new markets for agricultural products, initiating choices for producers that have never existed before, and generating new, incremental streams of revenue;

But not all new developments will be positive:

  • Climate change and erratic weather patterns will complicate planning, and may wipe out crops in a given area in any given year;
  • New competitors will emerge, such as suppliers from China or Israel for pesticides, or farmers in developing countries such as Brazil competing for the most lucrative markets;
  • Global economic woes could, at their worst, derail growth and leave us with a slow growth future; and
  • And aging boomers will be leaving the workforce, creating shortages in key skill-sets, and putting financial pressure on governments, pensions, and health care systems that will cause problems here at home.

The future offers both enormous opportunity and enormous dangers as well, and those who work in and serve agricultural communities need to be prepared for the unexpected. Richard will not only survey the opportunities and threats ahead, but will leave participants with a strategic planning toolkit that will enable them to harness the uncertainties before, and turn them to advantage.

Dark Clouds & Silver Linings: The Future of Food

Any organization involved in planning for the future of food will have to account for more changes in more different places than at any time in the past. Among these are:

  • Rising food prices and their implications. Recall, for instance, that the popular uprisings in the Middle East started with food riots in Tunisia. Rising food prices are going to cause problems in developed as well as developing countries.
  • The emergence of ‘water neutrality.’ Like carbon neutrality, water neutrality will mean that commercial organizations will need to manage the water they use, and how they discharge it back into the community, with unprecedented care. Water scarcity is going to become an economic and political, as well as a meteorological, issue.
  • The aging boomers. Although this trend is well-known and widely discussed, there are important nuances that aren’t as immediately obvious, including the rising importance of health factors in dietary decisions, and the implications for the workforce.
  • Customized nutrition. As we learn more about human genetics, we are finding that the old saying that ‘one man’s food is another man’s poison’ is literally true. Foodservice providers encounter this on a daily basis with the rapid rise of allergies and food intolerances, like celiac disease. Most foodservice companies view this as an annoyance, when it can, instead, become a potent competitive advantage.
  • The increasing importance of the global economy. The world is a more complex place today, and events in one part of the world can trigger consequences everywhere. As a result, unknown new competitors with deep pockets can emerge overnight and change the dynamics of an entire industry without warning.
  • The next phase of the technological revolution. Over the next 10 years, computers are going to increase in power by a factor of 1,000 times. As a result, we will finally see the emergence of what might be called ‘everyday robots’ and computer intelligences. This, and related developments in communications, will have far-reaching consequences in every industry, and in everyday life.

Richard Worzel is a strategic planner, a Chartered Financial Analyst, and one of today’s leading futurists. He offers audiences not only a fascinating view of tomorrow’s world, but practical tools for dealing with the uncertainties ahead.

How Food Producers Can Contribute to a Greener Society: Breaking the Carbon Habit Without Breaking the Bank

With the dramatic fall in the price of oil, it would be tempting to assume that the pressure to go green has disappeared. That would be a mistake, as the facts of climate change are still very much in evidence. This leaves the question: how can we, as individuals as well as producers, contribute to a greener society?

Richard Worzel is a Chartered Financial Analyst, a business visionary, and one of today’s leading futurists. In this presentation, he:

  • Outlines the critical issues relating to climate change, and humanity’s part in it;
  • Identifies the ways in which we are making things worse for ourselves; and
  • Talks about the ways in which we can change our behavior without destroying our businesses, of ways of going green while making it a profit-contributing process instead of a profit-draining one.

To finish off, Richard will outline a technique for identifying concrete new ways of improving efficiency, in order to benefit both profits and the environment.

Tools for Taming the Future (Workshop)

Farming and the business of food production is changing more quickly than at any time in the last century. The steady rise of foreign competition is squeezing the profit margins of farmers involved in commodity products like wheat, and will sooner or later drive them out of even more protected sectors like dairy production.

For those who plan to stay in the business of agriculture and involved in the food chain, new approaches will be necessary, taking account of the greater information flows available both ways between consumer and producer, the targeting of individuals as opposed to groups, and an understanding of the importance of our growing genetic knowledge of the unique nutritional needs of each individual.

Likewise, the marketplace is changing. Boomers are getting older, more aware of their health needs and the role nutrition plays in it, and more determined to avoid getting old. And they are approaching retirement age, when the patterns of their lives and demand will change. Their children, the echo boom or echoes, will become the next generation in the food industry – but only if farmers and processors can demonstrate that there’s a valuable future waiting for them.

Finally, there’s the promise of industrial biotechnology – entirely new ways in which plants and animals can be bred and used to produce feedstock and products that are greener and more efficient than those produced by traditional industrial means.

With the future so much in flux, food growers, processors, and marketers will have to adopt new, more sophisticated approaches to planning for uncertainty. In this half-day workshop, strategic planner and professional futurist Richard Worzel offers a toolbox for those who intend to find new niches, and new ways to market in this fluid, rapidly changing world.

The Transformation Century: Confronting the Forces that are Changing Agriculture

The unprecedented convergence of change in demographics, science, technology, government, and public attitudes is radically changing life on Earth, in Canada, and in the farm community. In this fast-paced and entertaining presentation, futurist and strategic planner Richard Worzel explores the topics that will affect our lives, our businesses, and our society, including:

Biosciences – New advances, especially in bioinformatics, genetics, and proteomics, offer new opportunities, as well as new threats and challenges in the physical world, in competition, and in the expectations of the public.

The ecology and environmentalism – As we learn more about how the Earth’s ecology works, we have a greater responsibility to measure and monitor our actions. The rise of the anti-globalization movement has raised the stakes for anyone interested in science-based policy. What can the industry do to anticipate and forestall the dangers of junk science attacks, as well as real world problems?

Governments are going to be more erratic and less predictable. How can you prepare for this, and how can you work successfully with unpredictable regulators?

To prosper, you need to prepare intelligently for the changes ahead. Richard will hand you a road map of the future to help you navigate the difficult times ahead.