The Next Big Thing….May Just be a Return to an Old Thing

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I have followed the debate over immigration reform, where investment money is flowing, etc… I finally think I have a pretty good idea why one is the news every single day, the other is glossed over, and why most Americans can’t understand why we don’t just close the southern border. 

It is simple.  The next big thing in the world is going to be farming and I am not talking your hippie urbanite with a chicken coup in their backyard, going to local farmers market every Saturday for a fresh crop of locally grown over priced “organic” tomatoes.  I am talking Archer Daniel Midland, Monsanto, etc…type farming.  The workers needed to met world demand is going to be enormous.  Americans have already proven to be to privileged, to lazy, and to willing to accept a handout to be relied on to power this new “Agricultural Revolution”.  Quietly under the radar, hedge funds are investing big time in farmland around the globe….don’t believe me just Google “hedge funds investing in farmland” watch the number of ads, articles, etc. that come up, from George Soros on down many firms are taking an interest in raw or developed farm land.

Why is the Bureau of Land Management, the EPA, and the Department of Agriculture all hassling the family farmer?  The land is worth more out of their hand than in it.  Why do both Democrats and Republicans long for some sort of “comprehensive immigration reform”?  You are told it is for “social justice”, “the fair thing to do”, “let’s bring them out of the shadows”,…….all bull shit!!    They want it because the next boom is going to need cheap abundant labor, period. 

Think I am wrong, let’s just look at China’s demand for imported food and what it will take to feed that society going forward.

The following is from Nie Zhenbang, a Chinese agronomy expert and former director of the Chinese State Grain Administration with a little help from Google and a scientific calculator, you can see the next big need isn’t going to be iPhone 18 unless it grows edible food on the screen.

“Although the number is huge,” said Nie, “it still could not satisfy domestic consumer demand. In recent years, China’s food imports have been increasing. Agricultural product imports are roughly equivalent to the productive capacity of 47 million hectares of planted area.”  

47 million hectares is 181,468 square miles.  To put this number in context, if you could cram together all the farmland and pasture that it takes to grow the food just being -imported- by China, the total area of this land mass would be larger than the entire state of California.

Seem far-fetched? Let’s walk through the numbers.

Consider that China’s 1.4 billion people consume an average 2,970 Calories per day; this means that the Chinese population requires a whopping 2 quadrillion Calories each year.  With an average 8 million Calories per year for an average hectare of land (1 hectare = 2.47 acres), this means that China’s population needs over 250 million hectares, or nearly 1 million square miles, to sustain itself.

Between drought conditions, soil pollution, and a raging dustbowl, China doesn’t have anywhere near that much quality land available to grow crops and raise livestock. They have to look abroad. So Mr. Nie’s estimates are definitely in the right ballpark.

There’s more.

The chief economist of China’s Agriculture Ministry, Qian Keming, estimates that in the coming years, Chinese grain demand will increase by 10 million ADDITIONAL tons each year.  Based on the global average yield of 3.11 metric tons of grain per hectare, China’s growing grain demand will tied up 12,000+ additional square miles of farmland per year, every year.

Bear in mind that 12,000 square miles is more or less the size of the Netherlands… just to satisfy China’s growing demand for grain.

And all we’re really talking about is one country, one food product.

This says nothing about imports of meat, fruit, nuts, etc. Nor does it speak to the growing food demand for literally billions of other people across the developing world.

It is a fact that daily Calorie consumption is directly correlated to per-capita GDP, and the data supports this conclusion.

A 2011 study authored by researchers from the University of Minnesota and UC Santa Barbara demonstrates “a simple and temporally consistent global relationship between per capita GDP and per capita demand for crop calories or protein.”

Simply put, as a nation becomes wealthier, its people consume more Calories and more protein.

Taiwan, for example, increased per capita meat consumption from just 13 kilograms annually in 1951 (when it was totally destitute) to 66 kilograms annually in 1992 (when it was an industrialized ‘Asian Tiger’).

This is important because it takes a lot more land to grow a kilogram of meat than anything else.

So as nations become wealthier, it takes much more land per-capita basis to feed them.

China is experiencing this growth right now. And this demand is only the tip of the iceberg.  Now add on the whole of Southeast Asia, Latin America, etc…and just think of the need? Farming and access to farmable land is going to be more valuable than gold within 50 years in my opinion. 

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