Gregg Hillyer

I’m going to cite an article entitled, “The Future of Food,” that Gregg Hillyer, then Editor in Chief of Progressive Farmer published July of 2012.

The circumstances regarding our nation’s food and commodities production hasn’t changed in that time, thus bears repeating.  Hillyer writes, “The bounty harvested every year by America’s farmers, ranchers and livestock producers is unparalleled and the envy of the world.  In 1940, one U.S. farmer produced food and fiber for only 19 people.  Seventy-two years later, [now78 years later] that same farmer feeds 155 people here and around the world.  Such gains in productivity are a tribute to the technological advances and efficiencies that define modern farming today.  U.S. agriculture is a $300 billion industry [and] with less than 2% of the nation’s population engaged in farming, big farms and big agribusiness firms dominate the landscape.  Our nation’s agricultural abundance and wealth means Americans spend only 6% of disposable income on food each year.  Other countries spend much more:  Canada, 9%; Italy, 14%; China, 13%; Philippines, 37%; Indonesia, 43%; and Pakistan, 46%.  We are indeed fortunate to live in a land of plenty with relatively inexpensive food.  But agriculture everywhere will have to do more – the world population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 and the United Nations estimates that food production will need to grow by 70%. . . .[Even facing this need of the future] present farming practices face increasing scrutiny.  More people are asking questions about how food is produced . . . and, support instead a food system that offers lasting sustainability, protecting diminishing natural resources and providing healthy, affordable food.  . . . What’s troubling is that the perception by some that U.S. farmers, in their pursuit to push high yields even higher, don’t – and won’t – use sustainable management practices.  Farmers argue that they are the original stewards of the land [land that they own, by the way] who follow regulations, best-management practices and other initiatives to protect the soil and safeguard rivers and streams.  They manage the land with the goal to leave it in better condition than they found it.  . . . No one food system fits all.  That’s why it’s critical to have an open and honest discussion to determine the best course(s) to feed the world.  The question is whether the debate will be driven by perception or reality.”   ALL THE MOVING PARTS – paying attention to all those aspects is truly what will make the world go ’round, in this instance.

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