sealPurdue News

October 1996

Perceptions of agriculture don't reflect new reality, expert says

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- On a long drive to Lexington, Ky., Purdue agricultural economist Michael Boehlje [BOWL-jee] was thinking of how he was constantly having to explain to people how agriculture is changing at the end of the 20th century.

He picked up his tape recorder and began listing the old perceptions of farming and the coming realities of agribusiness. The list has been met with enthusiasm from his academic peers, and it was published in the economics journal Choices.

"Some of these trends reflect what is already happening in the agriculture industry," Boehlje says. "Most of these trends are still on the horizon, although it's a horizon that's not that far away.

"The world of agriculture is moving to an industrialized model of production. Farmers are no longer looking to produce a generic product, such as corn, but are interested in biologically producing unique products with a specific end use in mind, such as white corn for corn chips."

In addition to white corn, other targeted products might soon include high-oil corn, tofu soybeans, soybeans high in certain amino acids for livestock feed, and, in the not-too-distant future, even different varieties of corn and soybeans grown as feed for specific species of livestock.

"Most of these concepts will surface in commercial or farm situations at the beginning of the 21st century," Boehlje says, "but considering that's only four years away, we are on the verge of seeing most of these concepts become reality."

Here's his list of the old vs. the new.


Markets and commodities

Consumer attitudes toward agriculture

Government involvement in agriculture

Farmers and the environment

Personal and professional skills required of farmers

Rural life

Farm management

Source: Michael Boehlje, e-mail,
Writer: Steve Tally, (765) 494-9809; e-mail,
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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