Kevin Redwine is a Texas Tech Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics graduate student. The Bellville native was selected to attend the USDA’s 2013 Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, Va., after writing an essay on greatest challenge facing agriculture over the next five years. He was one of 10 graduate students selected nationally in February to attend the event.
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The Greatest Challenge
‘If there is no guarantee the farmers can keep their land, then no farmer will be concerned with any long-term benefits from the land.’
By Kevin Redwine
It is known that the agricultural sector has always faced challenges. In comparison to previous generations where these were merely local problems we are now looking at global implications within the agricultural industry. To begin assessing the challenges that are ahead for the agricultural industry within the next five years, it would take an extensive amount of time. Instead I would like to break down the topic into particular challenges that I feel are of the utmost importance. Specifically, the influences from the government, a continuously growing population, and a lack of property rights can be considered accomplices in the challenges for the agricultural sector.
Sufficient Funding. One of the strongest influences on the agricultural industry is the United States government. It is known that the agricultural sector in the United States is currently in a trade surplus; yet the government is always trying to find ways to cut or scale back funding. I feel that finding ways for farmers to do what they do best should be the main criteria for the government. Whether it is by supplying these farmers with sufficient funding to operate or by funding research to create crops/livestock with higher tolerances to diseases, bacteria, or weather. Either one of these scenarios would be beneficial to the sustainability of the agricultural sector.
How are we going to feed all these people? This is a question that can bring up two topics regarding a challenge for agriculture. First, with the world population continuously getting larger the demand for an equivalent food supply is growing as well. Although there is still plenty of usable farmland in the world, the problem is that all the “convenient” locations for agriculture are currently in use. Finding ways for farming technology to reach these remote locations should be an obligation for anyone with the monetary ability to do it. Whether it is for cropland or grazing land, utilizing these prime locations would not only help the country itself to provide jobs/food for its citizens but it will also help the world.
Property Rights. Another factor facing agriculture is the misallocation of resources. By this, I mean the abuse and mistreatment of land. I understand that in some countries land is much more valuable and that there is no defined property rights for their citizens. If there is no guarantee the farmers can keep their land, then no farmer will be concerned with any long-term benefits from the land. This leads to overgrazing and overplanting leaving the soil with little to no nutrients left. Enabling citizens to obtain property rights allows them to be more productive while also being efficient by now thinking on a long-term basis.
We must remember that the agricultural industry comes with a biological lag that other industries do not have to worry about. Although this is a downside, it allows for creative ways to become more efficient within the agricultural sector. By overcoming the hindrances from the government, growing population, and lack of property rights the agricultural sector could become a more efficient and productive industry.