This piece was originally posted on Agri-Pulse.
By A.G. Kawamura
Editor's Note: Agri-Pulse and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs are teaming up to host a monthly column to explore how the US agriculture and food sector can maintain its competitive edge and advance food security in an increasingly integrated and dynamic world.
In California, farmers are again faced with drought. On the east coast farmers have been struggling with incessant rain and flooding, hurting yields. For many commodities, market prices have been dismal and with years of declining farm income, many older farmers are calling it quits and walking away. As they leave, they take with them years of valuable knowledge and experience, and in many cases there is no new generation to carry on the risky endeavor. The statistics now say that less than one percent of the US population makes a living from farming or ranching. How will farmers survive today and in the years ahead?
In the 2014 Farm Bill, farm income was almost double what it is today. How many hard working citizens take a fifty percent cut in income and continue on hoping that things will get better? Most of the challenges for farmers are not new, but they are compounded, straining the viability of farming as a business for farmers of all sizes and in all parts of the world. How to consistently feed a nation and a growing global population is something we need to address now.
The Farm Bill continues to be that critically important investment that our Federal government makes in its desire to maintain a predictable and affordable food supply for this nation. This month, the House and the Senate will once again work to reconcile the House and Senate versions, with the goal of having a new Farm Bill in place when the Agricultural Act of 2014 expires on October 1. While some 99 percent of Americans might understand and appreciate why farmers would strongly support vital risk management tools like crop insurance and other safety net programs, the majority of citizens who enjoy unprecedented choices for what they eat everyday may want to pay close attention to the long-term investments in Agricultural Research that help to ensure that same predictable cornucopia of food in the future.