Path Home Shows 2016 Show Archive October 2016 Show 1642 Lowell Catlett - Energy & Agriculture

Lowell Catlett - Energy & Agriculture

Based on the simple laws of supply and demand, futurist Lowell Catlett believes the energy and agriculture industries will once again thrive.
Lowell Catlett - Energy & Agriculture

Lowell Catlett - Energy & Agriculture

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Show 1642: Lowell Catlett - Energy & Agriculture
Air Date: October 16, 2016



Rob McClendon: Well, with the price of oil in the doldrums, and Oklahoma workers suffering from it, it may sound a bit Pollyannaish to predict a return to boom times. But that is exactly what Lowell Catlett predicts based on the simple laws of supply and demand.

Lowell Catlett: If something kind of works in economics, we call it an axiom. If it works more than kind of, we call it a law, and we ain’t got many. Well, one of the laws we have is there’s an inverse relationship between price and quantity. So, guess what, if you’ve got a high price you can bet generally what? There’s not many of ‘em, OK. Pretty good law. Gee, let’s see, at a $100 a barrel for oil, we found the damn stuff in North Dakota. And then when North Dakota became a big oil producer, guess what? Did we have some more oil than we thought were gonna have? Kinda! What happened to the price of oil? Pretty good law.

Catlett: To do all the things we talked about requires energy in phenomenal magnitudes, OK. And it has to be mobile, and it has to be usable. And we’re gonna look at different ways of doing that. It may be that we’ll move more toward electric vehicles, but you still have to charge those things. So we may charge them by very efficient solar cells, we may charge ‘em by wind, we may charge ‘em by stripping out petroleum into other component parts and using it to create little small fuel cells, I don’t know. But energy, the demand for it, is gonna explode – already is. It’s just gonna be in multifacets. And as we learn more about each one, we’ll do it. And we sometimes discard some. We’ve discarded a lot of coal plants to try to meet emission standards. But SacPower in Saskatchewan has a coal powered plant that basically meets the same stringent requirements we have in the U.S. that can only be met with natural gas, and they’re doing it with coal. So they’re using technologies in a way that nobody thought possible. So if you’re creative enough you can do it.

Rob: Onto another one of our major industries here in the state, and that is agriculture. With our growing global population, what does that mean for agriculturalists?

Catlett: We have to double meat production in the next 20 years to meet the demand for the rising wealth. Because the first thing they want when they get more money around the world is a better diet. The first thing they want in their diet is more meat. We have to double meat production. We’re not gonna do it anywhere in the world for the most part other than in the U.S. We have the capability, the infrastructure and the know-how to do it. And I say we do it in intensive animal operations because that’s where they have the least impact on the environment, the greatest gain in physical care and health and the greatest feed efficiency. So what’s it mean for agriculture? It means we’re gonna have to meet that demand for meat because the world wants it, and they want U.S. meat. They want it in poultry. They want it in pork. They want it in beef. That’s no small wonder that the Chinese have purchased and are rapidly moving towards getting as much of the pork facilities as they can in the U.S. Because we’ve gotta supply that meat protein, OK. If we’ve gotta supply that meat protein in an intensive animal operations, we need corn, we need soybeans, we need wheat. We need crops to do that. So overall I say it’s the greatest time to ever be in agriculture. Because you’ve got to do that, and you also gotta say, for people that say, “Well I, I know that but I want, you know, I want to know that that animal, I want to know who raised that animal. I want it certified all the way down. I want cageless chickens. I want free-range.” There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just you gotta whole segment of marketplaces that -- guess what, I know for a fact, you’ve got ‘em here in Oklahoma. You’ve got ranchers that will provide you a natural beef, no antibiotics, all day long. And you’ve got people that are trying to produce as many pounds of beef as they can to feed a different group of people, and you’ve got ‘em side by side. We’ve never had that before. Best time ever to be in agriculture.

Rob: Now, Dr. Catlett is a regent's professor in agricultural economics and a former dean at New Mexico State University, and if you are interested in the future of food and agriculture, I have a link to Catlett’s keynote address at the 85th National FFA Convention that I think you’ll find interesting. To watch that, just head and look under our value added section.