Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Future of Food: Crisis Prevention

See the linked article for an opinion about what needs to be done in the future to keep food production at pace with demand.

While the author(s) attack subsidies and ethanol, they point out that more research needs to be conducted in the ag sciences. Obviously, I agree with the last point. As far as subsidies, I would argue that subsidies in some form bring about stability in the ag sector and encourages investments by banks in the form of low-interest loans, agribusiness in the form of research and development and landowners in the form of land prices. In my non-economist opinion, subsidies are merely a pass-through for the producer.

The current climate at USDA for research is focused heavily on biotech and cellulosic ethanol production. It is almost impossible to get grant dollars for research on production agriculture, unless you tack on an ethanol project or possibly a small IPM project. Yet, all the companies are telling me that they are looking for production ag people and need more expertise in this area.

I think this underscores the need for you, as producers, to conduct some applied on-farm research. Including replications and data from multiple farms will help all of you. Again, if you have interest in this area, I or others in the universities, are willing to work with you.