Three articles regarding world food needs appeared in the recent 12/14/13 issue of the Missouri Farmer Today publication. These articles were respectively, “U.N. food agency lauds Mandela,” World needs 70% more food by 2050: UN and partners, ” and “What does the future hold for ag?”. In the Mandela focused article, it quotes The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director, General Jose Graziano da Silva, “Mandela understood that a hungry man, woman or child could not be truly free. He understood that eliminating hunger was not so much a question of producing more food as it was a matter of making the political commitment to ensure that people had the access to the resources and services they needed to buy or produce enough safe and nutritious food.” The article on the world needing 70% more food by 2050, states the importance of sustainable agriculture methods that include climate-smart agriculture and increased productivity on existing land used for agriculture to limit deforestation and reduce agriculture’s carbon footprint. Then, lastly the article on the future of U.S. agriculture offers some good news, I think….It states that currently the top 15 percent of today’s farmers produce 85% of U.S. food, fiber and other consumable agriculture products and that the trend moving forward at an increasing rate is fewer and fewer farmers producing more agriculture goods. These farmers will continue to rely more on technology to gain efficiences, such as GPS and satellite communications to record and help manage crop yields and determine needed soil nutrient additives and drones to fly over pastures to assess livestock herd locations and health. The disturbing portion of this last article though is its note that while small farms with operators that farm as a lifesytle connection to the land is increasing, the production from these small farms is declining. Why is this so? And, this should concern all of us because typically it is these smaller farmers that incorporate more sustainable approaches to agriculture. Is it government regulations that stifle production? Is it time available to farm because these families work two jobs due to either not being able to reach the markets that need and want their products or does the price they’re able to charge not adequate to provide a sustainable income?
To feed the world in 2050 and close the prospective gap of 70% more food needed in 2050 to feed an estimated 9.6 billion people it will take a combination of governments giving the rural poor more opportunities to access the resources needed to obtain and/or produce food and farmers from the large corporate farms to the smaller local producers addressing issues that include soil health, water pollution, food safety and security, the diversion of agriculture products for energy, GMO usage, value-added pricing and food distribution systems.
We at Harrison Valley Farms try to stay current on all these issues through our membership in industry associations, reading industry publications, participating in listserves, and attending conferences. And, we’re doing our part by increasing our production capacity using sustainable farming practices. We are passionate about this!