by Kalena Bruce
Farmers feed the world. Three times a day, our society depends on 1.5 % of our population (farmers) to provide nutritious food for their sustenance. Yet, 1-in-5 children in Cedar County go hungry at least once a week because they don’t have access to food.
We have a problem. We have a solution.
Agricultural production has to increase 75 percent in the next 35 years to feed the world’s estimated population of 9 billion. Farmers will have to meet this demand in the face of climate change, increasing government regulation, public misinformation, land and water scarcity and the demands for more protein-rich diets by populations with increasing incomes.
Globally, 800 million people live with hunger and extreme poverty. Although it’s down from one billion in 2008, nevertheless, 25,000 people still die every day because of hunger related issue. That is like 85 jumbo airliners filled with people crashing into a field in one day. Imagine that happening every day of the year.
According to the World Bank, every dollar invested in agricultural development is twice as effective in reducing hunger compared to investing in non-agricultural sectors. Each dollar spent on agricultural research yields a return of $20.
Since 1990, global farm yield growth has either stagnated or reversed in many parts of the world. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), projects that global agricultural growth will continue to fall which threatens much of the world’s population.
As many of these nations develop stronger economies, they become customers for U.S. commodities, products, and services. In fact, U.S. exports to Africa have increased by 200 percent since 2006. In addition, nearly 50 percent of U.S. agricultural exports go to developing countries. As U.S. farmers create more efficient food systems, they find an increasing demand in emerging markets in developing economies.
Domestically, 14 percent of Americans fight hunger, also known as food security. Food insecurity means that at various times during a week, people don’t eat because they do not have access to food.
Feeding America, the nation’s largest food bank system, tracks the numbers of food insecure people thru Map the Meal Gap. According to the Map, Cedar County has a food insecurity average of 17 percent and the child food insecurity rate is 22.7 percent.
In the recent Farm Bill, nearly 80 percent of the funding is allocated to nutrition programs like Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – formally known as food stamps) and School lunches. In 2015, 1 in 4 Americans participated in one or more of the 15 domestic food and nutrition programs. For a program dubbed “The Farm Bill”, a small portion actually goes to farmers.
Those who work on issues related to hunger understand two different approaches to ending hunger: relief and development. Relief, known as giving a man a fish, is necessary when people are starving. Development, known as teaching a man to fish, creates sustainable solutions.
The agricultural community is challenged, in the next 35 years, to double the amount of food that has been produced since the beginning of humanity. The Cedar County Farm Bureau accepts that challenge to provide both short-term and long-term solutions to ensure that no child in our community goes to bed hungry.