When I was a child, I was fascinated with globes. I loved spinning a globe around in my parents’ livingroom searching for far away countries that I learned about in school or on television. My entire universe was in Central Illinois (with an occasional trip to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals play). It was hard for me to understand how small my “universe” was in compared to the world. As I began to travel internationally, it became increasingly apparent how small and connected the world really is.
I was recently asked what I thought was the most important issue affecting the agriculture industry. In my mind, I believe our biggest challenge is feeding a growing population in the midst of climate change and environmental regulation, urban encroachment, the reduction of a rural labor force, and ethical questions from consumers about the food we eat. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (“FAO”) estimates that the world population is expected to grow by 2.3 billion people over the next four decades (a 2.9% annual growth rate). FAO predicts that there will need to be a 70% increase in food production by 2050 in order to feed 9.1. billion people. Over the next few decades, the international agriculture community will have fewer farmers, fewer arable land acres, and more hungry mouths to feed. Developed and developing countries will be forced to work in concert to find sustainable solutions to reduce world poverty and food insecurity through education, infrastructure, scientific research, technology, and favorable multi-national trade agreements.
So, I’m interested. In your mind, what do you think is the most important issue affecting the agriculture industry? And how should that issue be addressed?