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.
We need water for a variety of uses, but chief among them is to grow food. Seventy-one percent of water consumed globally is poured into crop and livestock production. Yet many agricultural producers live in water-stressed areas and the problem is growing worse.
By some projections, over half of the world’s population will be at risk for water scarcity by 2050—a time when water needs for agricultural production will have grown over 20 percent. The mismatch puts as much as 39 percent of cereal production and 49 percent of global grain production at risk due to water stress according to a new report by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future.
While the United States has ample water resources compared to many other countries around the world, we are not immune to weather vagaries that threaten harvests. Just last August, many areas from the Midwest to Western United States were experiencing abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions. The infamous US drought of 2012 affected the majority of the country and was responsible for major crop failures.