U.S. Agriculture - Availability
The American farmer is the most prolific in the world.
Already today, one U.S. farmer produces enough food to feed 155 people and is the leading producer of more than 50 foods of importance to diets throughout the world.
Tomorrow, all U.S. farmers will face demand that will require they produce even more food, on the same or fewer acres, with fewer inputs, and in a sustainable manner. According to the United Nations, global agriculture will have to produce 70 percent more food over the next 40 years than it does today. Can a single U.S. farmer produce enough food for 264 people? He will have to, because world population growth is not projected to level off until the mid- to late-21st century.
The possibility of meeting this demand will be largely dependent upon basic agricultural development in developing countries, with only 10 percent of all supply gains expected to come from increased acres entering into production. And while increased production and acres in developing countries is important, the responsibility will fall largely upon agriculture in developed countries to increase productivity; to get more food off the same or fewer acres.
While the challenge is great, U.S. agriculture has achieved significant increases in food output before. Driven by the Green Revolution beginning in the 1960s, great strides were made in plant breeding, plant nutrition, production practices and technology to improve crop yields. This in turn benefitted the livestock industry, which along with its own improvement in technology and production practices also saw increased meat production. From 1950 to the most recent year reported in the 2000s:
- Corn yields per acre increased 75%
- Soybean yields per acre increased 47%
- Total red meat production increased 55%
Is a "second Green Revolution" possible in developed countries? Will undeveloped nations experience a Green Revolution of their own? What role will technology play? Is "modern agriculture" equipped to sustainably meet the demands of a population of more than 9 billion people? Will governments invest in research, financing, agricultural development, trade policies and the many other building blocks of a successful food production system? Can farmers feed the world?