WORLD'S FARMERS NOT MEETING PRODUCTION INCREASE NEEDS
In America, an amazing feat has been accomplished. Only two percent of the population is producing food for the national population of over 321 million people. Through modern and precision agriculture, our food producers are doing well to provide food for the growing population on less land than ever before, and they are even leaving less of an environmental impact. Yet, other countries are not doing nearly as well.
It has been projected that the Total Factor Productivity (TFP) of the world’s farmers has to increase by at least 1.75% to sustain the growing population. Current growth rates are recorded to be 1.72%, meaning the food production does not match the population growth and millions of people will grow hungry. We are losing the fight against hunger.
Modern American farmers have been warning against this for generations, and it was the fear of not being able to sustain the world that drove our agriculturalists to scientific answers so long ago. USDA Economist Dr. Keith Fuglie said, “The reason that productivity is increasing as much as it is today is because of the investments in research and development made 10 to 20 years ago.”
Other parts of the world, for various reasons, did not make the same investments in technology and advancement, however, and the global population is starting to feel it. Underdeveloped countries, those who could not afford to invest in research, have TFP levels as low as 1.5%. Often times those underdeveloped nations who are not producing at modern levels are the ones who have the highest population increases.
So how do we increase the production of these smaller nations so that food costs does not exponentially rise on the global market?
According to Kelly Winguist of John Deere, the answer lies with a combination of better seeds, practices, and genetic lines for livestock.
Other countries, both small and large, must look to America to see successful agricultural practices and implement them around the world. Genetic modification, precision agriculture, herbicides, and pesticides are all essential to the growth of needed crops around the world.
Without these things, without science and advancement, we are helpless.
Look at Zambia, a country with nearly 70% of its people working in the agricultural field. Yet, the production of country’s most popular product, maize, is projected to decrease by 30% over the next few years.
Food producers all around the globe can learn from successful use of technology here in America. But they can also learn what not to do from America, in regards to the heavy backlash against biotechnology.
The United States in general is less affected than other countries by such things as food insecurity (although 24 million Americans do live in food deserts) and starvation, and so few Americans are concerned with increasing food production.
Confusion and fear fueled by groups who oppose progress in the agriculture industry have caused many in the American public to become distrustful of any method of crop production on a large scale.
The term “Big Ag” was created for just this purpose. Opponents want to associate modern agriculture with corporate imagery, and that tactic has worked well to their benefit.
Unfortunately, it does a disservice to the American people, consumers of all economic levels, and especially to the food producers, who now find it more difficult to do their jobs.
We are very fortunate in this country to have a strong economy, a dedicated workforce, and good, diverse land from which to cultivate crops. U.S. consumers spent only 9.6% of personal disposable income for food in 2008. By contrast, consumers in other parts of the world must spend 50% or more of their income for food, and this is devastating for them.
We must continue to support our farmers who utilizing these modern agriculture techniques, because they are contributing to a nutritious, sustainable food supply which becomes more essential to the world every day. If we can do that, the U.S. will be a shining example to other countries in the field of agriculture.