On Halloween, Thank a Farmer

October 31 is not only Halloween, but it’s also the date that the United Nations (UN) has attributed as the day that 7 billion people will inhabit the planet.

For perspective, on average, four births and two deaths occur every second. By 2050, we’ll require 70 percent more food availability.

The UN population fund executive director said the phenomenon is “both a challenge and an opportunity.”

Perhaps no one is as affected by this event as much as the our food producers — the farmers and ranchers responsible for ensuring safe, affordable, plentiful fruits, vegetables, grains, meat and dairy products to feed the world. Producers are also responsible for other human essentials such as fiber and biofuels.

Because of technology, seed advancements and conservation tactics, our producers are doing more using less land and resources. Agricultural methods that maximize yields while mitigating agricultural impacts include reduced-till or no-till, manure management, nitrogen and fertilizer efficiency technologies. For example:
  • Farmers use less fertilizer because advanced equipment provides pinpoint application and seed technologies are constantly improving efficiency
  • Reduced tillage and other farm-management practices have reduced soil erosion 43 percent in 20 years
  • Improvements in crop-protection products in the past 20 years have made them less toxic and more degradable
  • Biotechnology allows farmers to use less synthetic pesticides
In 2008, the UN established the High-Level Task Force (HLTF) for the Global Food Security Crisis, comprising the leaders of its specialized agencies, funds and programs, as well as relevant parts of the UN Secretariat, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Trade Organization. Its primary aim is to promote a comprehensive and unified response to the challenge of achieving global food security.

According to its website, HLTF “outlines activities related to meeting the immediate [food] needs, like investing in food assistance and social safety nets, as well as activities related to the longer-term structural needs, like scaling up investment in agriculture within developing countries, increasing opportunities for producers, pastoralists and fisher folk to access land, water, inputs and post-harvest technologies, focusing on the needs of smallholders, and enabling them to realize their right to food, sustain an increase in income and ensure adequate nutrition.”

The population announcement comes on the heels of significant ag policy changes to the pending 2012 Farm Bill. Several modifications to the existing crop insurance and direct payment structure are being considered that affect the strength of producers’ operations.

“But farmers in the U.S. might have been surprised that the very policy that is in place to help ensure that America’s food production system is efficient and effective – crop insurance – is again under the microscope and was recently targeted by the White House for an additional $8 billion in cuts in the next decade,” stated a recent CropLife story.

Given the milestone, it will be even more interesting to witness the outcome of America’s next Farm Bill. Whatever the result, I’m confident that our farmers and ranchers will continue to be dependable, eco-conscious food providers for years to come.

Photo obtained from: emergencyfoodsecurity.myefoods.com

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