While agriculture has enjoyed “some really good times in the past few years,” Mississippi Land Bank Chairman of the Board Abbott Myers says the USDA is projecting that farm income will decline in 2014 “and there could be some bumps in the road ahead.

“Everyone knows things in agriculture tend to cycle up and down,” the Dundee, Miss., producer said at the organization’s annual meeting. “Anybody who’s been in farming for any length of time knows hard times will come sooner or later.

“It’s no secret farming expenses are going up, and if the USDA analysts are right, we could be facing a little squeeze. On the other hand, the USDA and prognosticators aren’t always right.

“All is not doom and gloom,” Myers told the organization’s stockholders and staff. “Eighty percent of the world’s population is moving into the middle class at a rapid pace, and developing countries will be the engine of our growth in the future.

“That middle class worldwide will demand better food, clothes, better products, and we in the U.S. need to be prepared for this. We’re still the breadbasket for the world.”

Competition is increasing from South America, India, western Russia, and other countries, Myers says. “They’re pushing their production, and we’re going to need to be more efficient in agriculture, more productive.

“We have a big advantage over Brazil, Argentina, and other countries, but a lot of our ports need to be modernized, and we need to invest more in our future, particularly our transportation infrastructure, including the Upper Mississippi River system.”

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A question mark for the economy in the period ahead, Myers says, is what the Federal Reserve will do in setting interest rates. “Whenever the Fed stops pumping money into the market, as it has been doing for many months, interest rates are going to go up, and the stock market likely will go down.

“It’s interesting that some of the higher-rated companies in the U.S. are now in the bond market raising capital. Are they doing this for future growth and expansion, or are they preparing for bad times? Whatever affects the economy also affects agriculture. And whatever the future brings, we must be prepared for the unexpected.”