Consumers Are Wrong: We Do Have an Obligation To Feed the World

Prairie Gleanings

Teaching a country to farm is not an easy venture. Food exports are a huge revenue stream for the U.S.

Published on: September 15, 2011
The Center for Food Integrity released a study this week that shows just how far removed consumers are from the farm.

According to the survey, 40% of consumers strongly disagreed with the statement “The United State has a responsibility to provide food for the rest of the world.” Instead, more than half agreed with a statement that said we should concentrate on teaching developing nations how to feed themselves, rather than export food to them.

There are two very important issues here: maintaining a competitive advantage and providing for the needy. Teaching a third world country to farm is a noble enterprise. However, we should be working hard to develop export markets to developed countries such as China and India.

I’m not sure consumers fully grasp this point of the discussion. The U.S. is great at producing food. It’s a product we should work to market in the global economy. Just as Japan sells Toyotas over here, we should work hard to sell corn and soybeans in overseas markets.

Of course, no one in a third world country is going to die if they don’t have a Toyota. They will if they don’t have enough food. One of the greatest parts of being an American means we are largely a nation that cares for the wellbeing of others. This can’t be a sink or swim thing.

We should try to teach developing nations to farm. In fact, a number of terrific U.S. philanthropies are doing that already. Howard Buffett and Bill Gates have poured millions of dollars into this venture. The culture and level of technology make this extremely difficult. In the U.S., farmers do not fear having their crop stolen by the U.S. military.

In conclusion, maintaining that we should only concern ourselves with feeding ourselves ignores these two important points. The export market is worth a big chunk of change. Teaching a country to farm isn’t an easy venture.

For these reasons, I maintain that feeding the world is a very real goal and quite noble. If the U.S. concerned itself only with feeding its own citizens, the effects would be devastating to the rest of the world. Talk about a weapon of mass destruction!