We Americans are so fortunate. We have the safest, most abundant, most affordable food supply on earth. I don’t think most American consumers appreciate this fact completely. As a nation, we do not know hunger as they do in other countries.
There is no question that hunger exists in our country, and it is something we should diligently work to stamp out. But, as a nation, we have not known hunger, except perhaps during the Great Depression.
As we celebrate National Agriculture Week, we need to remind folks that it takes about 129 days of work to pay all of our federal, state and local taxes in a year, but it only takes about 40 days to pay for a year’s worth of food (www.agday.org). That’s incredible, and puts food into perspective.
A couple of weeks ago, I heard Grady Bishop, director of U.S. swine operations for Elanco, speak at the Nebraska Pork Producers Association Pork Industry Day in West Point. Bishop was eloquent in putting our food in the right context.
He told producers that much of the world spends 50% to 95% of their income, which might be as little as $1 or $2 a day, on food. For much of the world, hunger and future food security are major issues. But these may become larger issues for industrialized nations as well.
We need to keep food choices on the shelves and grow enough food in the coming years to feed the world and provide a safe food supply that is affordable and nutritious. This is not a small task, as Bishop pointed out.
He said that 70% of the increase in food production needed to feed the world 40 years from now must come from efficiency-enhancing technologies, because there is no more land available for production. (You can read more about Bishop’s presentation in a future print issue of Nebraska Farmer.)
There you have it. We always knew that our food is a great gift, but it is becoming clearer just how precious our food supply will be in the coming years.
As farmers, we really need to continue to personalize this message and get the word out about the hardworking stewards of our country – our nation’s farmers and ranchers.
Happy Ag Week everyone! I’m telling people, “Hug a farmer. We all have to eat.”