Agriculture key to local growth

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By Brad Lowell
Blade-Empire Editor

 For continued growth and prosperity, county leaders along with CloudCorp should work to leverage the  agricultural base of the community, John Lagemann, former Concordian and senior vice president for Agriculture and Turf Division of John Deere, told a sold out crowd at the annual meeting of the Cloud County Development Corporation Friday noon at the Catholic Church Parish Hall.
 Lagemann said that the United States is locked in a global competition to feed a rapidly growing world population. “We live in an intra related global economy as evidenced by the recent developments in the Ukraine,” he said. “Because of the events taking place in that country, corn prices have gone up in this country as well as around the globe.”
 As the world's population continues to grow, agriculture will be asked to produce more and more food with less available land, water and energy, Lagemann said. 
 Lagemann, the son Mary Ann Lagemann and the late William Lagemann, said for those reasons Kansas farmers must be good stewards of their resources and must embrace technological advances in the way they farm.  Since oceans make up 75 percent of the earth's surface, it would appear that there is plenty of water available, Lagemann said. “The problem is that there is not a lot of fresh water with only two and a half percent of the water on earth being fresh and only one third of that is accessible.”
 Most of the technological advances in agriculture are taking place in the Western Hemisphere where unfortunately there is not all that much undeveloped land remaining, Lagemann said.  Brazil can increase its tillable land by between 12 to 15 percent and there is little land left in this country which can be developed, he said.
 Lagemann said that on a recent trip to Brazil, he found farmers who were growing two crops on their land each year and were planning to begin growing a third crop each year. Even with a move to three crops a year, the fact remains that there is only so much water and so much energy available, he said.
 Turning his attention to growth in global gross domestic product (GDP) and population, Lagemann said that most of the growth will come in developing countries like China and India. The global economy is growing at 4 percent a year, while the growth in developed countries such as the U.S and Canada is growing at only two percent a year which is exceeded by a 6 percent growth in developing countries, he said.
From 1998 to 2014 the world's economy grew from $30 trillion to $77 trillion, Lagemann said. During that period of time, the developed countries' GDP grew by 15 percent while the developing countries economics grew by 40 percent, he said.
The earth's population will grow from 7 billion people to 9.5 billion by 2050, Lagemann said. The growth of population in developed countries will only be four percent during that time period, while
developing countries like China and India will experience a 28 percent growth in population, the John Deere vice president said. “The least developed countries in Africa will grow by 103 percent.”
 As global economies grow and wages increase from $1 a day to $2 or $3 a day, appetites for food will increase, Lagemann said. It would seem that the food supply would only need to increase by 50 percent to meet the demand resulting from the increase in population; however, economists conclude that the food supply needs to increase by 70 to 75 percent because of the increase in appetite, he said.
“What does all of this mean to us in this room,” Lagemann asked? “First, we need to realize we are in a global economy and second we should not fight technology, but rather embrace it,” he said.
We are in a good position as we enter the next wave of development which is telematics, Lagemann said. With wireless data transmission, we can remotely manage equipment and be able to monitor such things as maintenance and fuel economy, he said.
 With moisture sensors spread around a field connected to the Internet, we will be able to write fertilizer prescriptions based on varying moisture contents across a field, Lagemann said. “We need to make this technology a competitive advantage, he said.
 Lagemann, who is responsible for John Deere marketing in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America, urged those attending the meeting to figure out what the current trends are and apply them to their businesses.
 CloudCorp, Lagemann said, is really important to this community. “Not all people realize its importance to the community,”  he said. “It is the pro-active organization in the community that can make a difference.”
Lagemann said he was fortunate to grow up in this community. “Two important things that I learned growing up here were a belief in a strong work ethic and the importance of treating people with respect,” he said.
 In closing, Lagemann encouraged those attending the meeting to do everything possible to promote the local community, noting that a good place to start would be with the local educational system. He added that when he is hiring someone, if possible, he'll always go with the person who has midwestern family values.
 Lagemann joined John Deere Company in 1982 as a marketing representative. Since that time, he has had assignments as an area service manager, territory manager, training manager and division sales manager for the Kansas City Branch. He also served as Manager, Factory Marketing for John Deere Harvester Works. Before being appointed to his current position, he managed John Deere's sales operations in Australia, New Zealand and East Asia for two years. He served as vice president for sales for the United States and Canada from 2002 to 2009.
He earned both his Bachelor's degree in Feed Science and Management and his MBA from Kansas State University.

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