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 »
The Economic Research Service examined why lower unemployment in the post-recession period was not matched by gains in food security among U.S. households. Photo credit: Shutterstock
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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
USDA’s annual survey on food security among American households showed, not unexpectedly, that the prevalence of food insecurity increased during the 2007-09 recession. In the post-recession period, the highest monthly unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent in 2009-10 to 8.3 percent in 2012. But the rosier employment picture was matched by very little improvement in the level of food insecurity – i.e., households’ lack of consistent access to adequate food for active, healthy lives. The national prevalence of food security was 14.5 percent in 2012, essentially the same as in 2009 and 2010. What could be the explanation? Read more »
As an entomologist, the notion of eating insects isn’t new to me. However, for most Americans, the thought can make their stomachs churn. And yet, maybe seeing insects on their dinner plates is something Americans should get used to seeing.
Yesterday, I delivered the keynote address at the Insects as Food Conference, which was hosted by the FAO and Wageningen University in the Netherlands. As director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), my goal is to ensure that the science we invest in leads to solutions to today’s most pressing challenges. One of those challenges relates to our world’s growing population, which is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050. We need to find new ways to feed all people while minimally impacting the environment. This “9 Billion Problem” has implications for how we grow and view food now and in the future. Read more »