What is in this article?:
- US most food-secure country in world
- Food security not universal
- If one part of the United States endures poor weather for agriculture, another section can begin to make up the difference through its own productivity. International trade networks also soften the blow: Buying and selling food across borders means that no single region is abandoned to its own fate.
The United States is suffering through one of the worst droughts in its history, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture announcing earlier this month that more than 1,000 counties across 26 states now qualify as natural-disaster areas. By some estimates, the bone-dry weather could cost farmers and ranchers as much as $50 billion.
On my farm in Central Illinois the effects of the dry weather and high temperature is stunning. What might have been one of my best crops ever has turned into one of the worst.
It is a serious economic problem for farmers, but it’s not a life-threatening event. We’re not about to witness a famine in the heartland. Crops may fail, but Americans won’t starve to death.
That’s because the United States is the most food-secure country in the world. So says a new report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, which has just released the first edition of the Global Food Security Index, a comprehensive survey on the availability, cost, and quality of food.
If food security were an Olympic event, the United States would take the gold medal. The silver would go to Denmark and the bronze to France.
In reality, there are plenty of winners, including Australia, Canada, Europe, Israel, Japan, and South Korea. Even New Zealand, off by itself on the edge of the world, is the 11th most food-secure country. There are no losers or also-rans in this distinguished club.
This is positively good news–a tribute to the success of modern agricultural methods, which have all but abolished food shortages in prosperous nations. We’re growing more food and safer food than ever before, using 21st-century technologies that were not available just a generation ago.
We overcome the food supply challenges that can be a result of droughts through sheer abundance and availability. If one part of the United States endures poor weather for agriculture, another section can begin to make up the difference through its own productivity. International trade networks also soften the blow: Buying and selling food across borders means that no single region is abandoned to its own fate.
Earlier this year, Michigan’s cherry farmers lost most of their crop, due to an untimely freeze. The state of Washington is stepping up. So are imports from Poland. A year from now, Michigan’s growers will be back on their feet. Most consumers probably won’t even notice that they had stumbled.
When a supply of food is secure, people don’t have to worry about the source of their next meal. One way or another, it will be there–possibly with cherries on top.