Over the next 30 years agriculture will face many challenges and issues in providing food, fiber and energy and a report released Wednesday by the Farm Foundation identifies problems that will confront agriculture.
"Global population is expected to increase by one-third by 2040. Increasing incomes, particularly in developing countries, may bring changes in dietary preferences and greater demand for agriculture to provide food and energy," says Farm Foundation President Neilson Conklin. "All this will increase pressure on and competition for natural resources at a time when the impacts of climate change on production systems are not yet fully understood."
A diverse set of agriculture and agribusiness leaders, government agency representatives and academics provided input for the report The 30-Year Challenge: Agriculture’s Strategic Role in Feeding and Fueling a Growing World.
Key issues that public and private decision makers may need to consider as they address the challenges of feeding a growing world are highlighted. The major challenges included in the report include global financial markets and recession; global food security; global energy security; climate change; competition for natural resources, and global economic development.
The report is intended as a starting point to expand discussion and debate about issues and options and doesn't make recommendations, but does express the diverse opinions of the project participants.
"U.S. agriculture alone cannot feed a growing world. However, with its rich endowment of agricultural resources and its leadership in technology, the United States will play a critical role in determining if the world will meet this 30-year challenge," Conklin says. "Given the right tools and incentives, we are confident the world’s agriculture producers and agribusinesses will rise to the challenge. But those incentives are heavily influenced by public policy. It is not clear that today’s policies—designed to deal with issues of the last century—will provide appropriate tools and incentives to address the 30-year challenge."
Public understanding of agriculture was a recurring theme in the comments from the different participants. Other themes that came up frequently were uncertainty, unintended consequences, trade and the lack of a clear strategy.
The full report and an executive summary are available on the Farm Foundation Web site, www.farmfoundation.org.