Food Security

February 24, 2011

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

The headline reads: “Hungry North Korea Seeks Food Hand Outs.” “Plagued by floods, an outbreak of livestock disease, and a brutal winter, the North Korean government ordered its embassies around the world to seek help.” To beg for food.

What do we do? Here they are trying to build a nuclear weapon to threaten the West and now they want us to give them food.

There are a lot of hungry people in the world. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say just two weeks ago. “Nearly a billion people worldwide are suffering from hunger. Three and a half million children die every year because of under nutrition.”

There are a lot of reasons why some people don’t have the food they need. Look at the contrast between North Korea and South Korea. The South is rich and Communist North is on life support. The Communist system in North Korea, just like Cuba, doesn’t work. It never will. China was smart enough to institute a market economy.

Turn to Africa for another reason for hunger, and you find that they have not adapted the modern farming technology that has dramatically pushed our yields up. Sub-Saharan Africa’s corn yield is 35 bu. per acre. We are at 160 bu. per acre. China is 80 bu. per acre but rising.

Farmers around the world can produce a lot more food, but they can’t keep doing everything the same old way. Markets must be allowed to work and new technology must be welcome.

At a dinner meeting this week, Raj Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said he intends to prioritize agriculture development. He is right.

According to Rob Fraley, Chief Technology Officer at Monsanto, “We can double corn yields by 2030 while using 1/3 fewer imports.” He is talking about biotech crops that resist pests, drought, and disease.

Farmers of the world can meet the challenge, but giving out food is not a permanent fix. The surge in world food prices today is a problem for the poor, but in the long run, higher prices will encourage investment in agriculture to grow more.

With all the turmoil in the world today, food security must be priority number one.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to http://www.johnblockreports.com .

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.