Analyzing trends is something a lot of people pay good money for in hopes of getting in on the next big fad or movement.  I know we in agriculture have seen our share of some of these fads.  One of the first fads I was exposed to was an effort by some promoter to get folks to raise Jerusalem Artichokes.  I also remember hearing people talk about getting in on the ostrich and emu business and there have been any number of ideas promoted that were supposed to lift the agricultural industry out of the quagmire of year to year poverty.

Perhaps because there is the occasional winner among all of the losers, we will probably keep seeing ideas pop up and some folks will try them out and probably walk away with fewer dollars in their pocket than when they started.

Other trends lead to some confusion and head scratching.  For instance we've seen science coming up with a method (although expensive) to grow meat in a test tube while at the same time people are talking about the need to return to locally grown food.  I'm not going to hold my breath on whether we will be eating artificial tube steaks since the current crop of tube steaks have been pretty popular for several generations.

The current movement away from purchasing food at the grocery store and purchasing food at local farmer markets also seems to be an interesting phenomenon.  Every night on my way home I drive by a grocery store that is pretty busy and a few years ago when our local Wal-Mart became a grocery store, as well as an “everything else” store, there were a lot of customers laying down hard cash or credit for food from this marketing giant. 

Lately, we've seen people working on their city council members to allow backyard chickens in city limits.  Many of these folks have rediscovered the joys of fresh eggs and home grown chickens.  Whether 10 years from now they will still be enjoying these eggs and chickens remains to be seen.  One side effect from all of this will be folks learning that chickens can attract a wide variety of predators.  In my experience about the only thing that won't try to kill a chicken is a sheep and that's just because many of the things that eat chickens also like to try their hand at lamb.

Another side effect for the backyard chicken producer will be the ability to enjoy picking wet scalded chicken feathers and the definite odor that accompanies that task.  Also, I'm sure there will be a new awakening of the olfactory senses in the kitchens where all of the parts of the chicken that can't be eaten are removed.  Having experienced both odors; the wet feathers were definitely better than the chicken insides.  Will folks unaccustomed to some of the more organic smells that agricultural producers grow up with still be interested in those smells 10 years later?  Especially after they fight the raccoons, skunks, fox, weasels, owls, hawks, neighborhood dogs, occasional coyote etc. to keep them from eating the chickens before the family can get to them.

I know that after several years of doing just that when I was growing up, the decision to turn chicken production over to Sanderson Farms wasn't terribly difficult and eggs from IGA were easier than gathering eggs once or twice a day.

At the very least there will be a lot of folks from inside the city limits that will be able to sit down with their country cousins and trade predator stories, or talk about how frustrating it is to just about get ready to harvest some chickens only to have a predator beat you to it.

By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President