The National Institute of Food and Agriculture offers research grants to help respond to the world's water security issues. (iStock photo)
April 22 marks the 45th celebration of Earth Day, with its theme of “It’s our turn to lead.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is a leader in its support of cutting-edge sustainable and organic agricultural research.
The USDA estimated that 31 percent—or 133 billion pounds—of the 430 billion pounds of the available food supply at the retail and consumer levels in 2010 went uneaten in the United States. It’s not just people throwing away food after “super sizing;” food waste can begin at the farm, where crops are sometimes not harvested because they lack a perfect appearance. Waste also occurs through spoilage or improper cooking.
As bad as this is in terms of not feeding the hungry, wasting food is also wasting energy, water, and everything else required to grow, process, transport, and prepare food. Improving resource efficiency would also decrease the amount of nitrogen released to the environment. Read more »
This blog was cross-posted on the Chicago Council’s Global Food for Thought blog.
Farmers, ranchers and foresters have long understood the need to care for our land and water. We depend on them for food, clothing and shelter – and they depend on our natural resources for their livelihoods.
The conversation about global food security rightly focuses on the most pressing issues of access, nutritional value, food safety, and productivity. Conservation and resource use are intrinsically tied to each of these challenges, but are not always a focal point. Read more »
Earlier today, Secretary Vilsack posted a guest column on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations blog in honor of World Food Day. The UN General Assembly has designated 2014 “International Year of Family Farming.” This is a strong signal that the international community recognizes the important contribution of family farmers to world food security.
The headlines today can often seem bleak: worries of terrorism, global health, climate change, drought and hunger dominate the news cycle. These are extraordinarily complex and challenging issues that will impact and forever transform the lives of future generations.
Solving them is not simply about military or economic might. While they are not always fully appreciated and recognized for their capacity to address these challenges, I believe the role that agriculture and family farmers can play is significant. Read more »
The number of food-insecure people in Sub Saharan Africa is projected to rise over the next decade. But modern, higher yielding crop varieties hold promise for improvements in the region's food security situation. USDA's Economic Research Service provides annual 10-year projections of international food security.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
Across the globe, how are low- and middle-income countries faring in the ability to feed their populations? The International Food Security Assessment, released annually by the Economic Research Service (ERS), is the only report to provide a 10-year projection of food security in these countries. Since the 1980s, ERS has been conducting research and reporting on food security in countries most likely to face food security challenges.
To assess countries’ food security, ERS uses two key determinants: domestic food production and import capacity. In countries where domestic food production accounts for a large share of consumption (many in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia), increasing output of staple crops is crucial to improving food security. By comparison, in countries that rely on imports for a large share of their food supplies (many in North Africa and Latin America), the capacity to pay for imports is more important. Read more »
From record droughts in Kansas to deadly wildfires in California, the United States is feeling the effects of climate change. These same conditions have a dire impact across the developing world, especially for poor, rural smallholder farmers whose very lives are threatened every time the rains arrive late, the floods rush in, or the temperature soars.
By 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach nine billion people. Feeding them will require at least a 60 percent increase in agricultural production. There is no greater challenge to meeting this need than climate change. It poses a range of unprecedented threats to the livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people and to the very planet that sustains us. In order to ensure that hundreds of millions of people are not born into a debilitating cycle of under-nutrition and hunger, we must address the urgent threat that climate change poses. Read more »
USDA’s annual food security report shows that 14.3 percent of American households were food insecure in 2013. Food-insecure households lack consistent access to adequate, nutritious food. “Very low food security” is the more severe condition, with one or more household members at times reducing their food intake below normal levels.
USDA’s latest report on food insecurity in America shows that the prevalence of food insecurity is down from a high of 14.9 percent of U.S. households in 2011 to 14.3 percent in 2013. This annual report takes a look at the number and types of households that had difficulty at some time during the year providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of financial or other resources. Back in 2007, about 11 percent of U.S. households were food insecure, but with the economic downturn in 2008, that rate had increased and remained relatively high.
Given improvements in employment and other economic indicators, some have wondered why food security has been slow to improve. A recent study by my colleagues and me at the Economic Research Service sheds light on this question. We found that while unemployment declined in 2012 and 2013, inflation and the price of food relative to other goods and services continued to increase. These increases offset improvements in food security that might have resulted from the decline in unemployment. This study provides a useful backdrop to understanding trends in and causes of food insecurity. Read more »