National Ag Day a Cause for Celebration, Assessment

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Today is National Ag Day, a program started in 1973 by the Agriculture Council of America to help increase the public’s awareness of agriculture’s role in modern society.

This is a good time for all of us in agriculture to stand up and thank all of the farmers and ranchers who work tirelessly to put food on dinner tables around the world. It’s also a good time to take stock of our ability to deliver that food efficiently and safely, and understand what it will take to ensure that our food system productivity can meet the demands of a burgeoning world population.

At last week’s Ag Issues Forum, hosted by Bayer CropScience, several presenters provided a glimpse into the existing mechanisms that bring food from the field to the table, and the trends that impact and will affect that food system in years to come.

Food waste is an overlooked and growing problem. Kai Robertson from Business for Social Responsibility says that more than 67 billion pounds of food ends up in landfills every year. Divide that by the nearly 47 million Americans in poverty, and that’s enough food to provide each of those families with more than three meals each day.

With a growing population, we’ll not only need all of the food available to keep them fed but also the necessary infrastructure. Gawain Kripke, Director of Policy and Research, Oxfam, says the growing population, expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 will stretch the ability of the food system to deliver food economically and efficiently.

Bill Lapp, a grain economist with Advanced Economic Solutions, says growing economies in the developing world, a weaker dollar and biofuel production are three ongoing domestic and global trends impacting food, fiber and fuel production. All will have an impact on feeding a growing population.

So where do you see our food system headed? Is the system broken, or is it adequate?


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