The future for farming is promising but producers will need to accept that volatility is here to stay, delegates at the NFU Conference were told.

Paul Conway, senior vice-president of agricultural products company Cargill, outlined five megatrends in the global agriculture market.

These were rising incomes, energy prices, long term underinvestment in the agricultural infrastructure, commodities being seen as hedge asset and the supply side shocks coming from poor harvests.

While increases in income in developing countries were pushing up the costs of inputs and increasing the demand for food, Mr Conway hailed this as a universal good as more people move out of poverty. 

“We believe at Cargill it is unmitigated good news that rising incomes around the world have led to an improvement in the diets of tens of millions of people,” he said.
“This is the largest driving force in global agriculture today.”

Mr Conway said he thought the impending, and necessary, expansion of food production to meet this demand was achievable. 

“You have heard the statistics, 40% more food in the next 20 to 25 years and everyone says ‘gosh how are we going to do that?’. Well we have, we have done that globally in the last 30 years with no land expansion,” he said.

Read more NFU Conference coverage 2011