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The Economics of Food Insecurity – Growers Can Adapt to be More Productive

Touch the Soil News #2029 (photo – Food Market) ( Public Domain, USDA)

Most farmers believe their occupations are forever ensured.  And that is true.  Even farmland has attracted the world of investors who want to ride the crest of the demand for food by owning farmland.

NPR News recently reported that 44.2 million people lived in households that had difficulty getting enough food to feed everyone in 2022, up from 33.8 million people the year prior. Those families include more than 13 million children experiencing food insecurity, a jump of nearly 45 percent from 2021.

Recent surveys with Los Angeles (L.A.) County residents participating in the Understanding America Study show that food insecurity increased in 2023, with 3 in 10 (30%) households experiencing food insecurity. This is a 6 percentage-point increase from 2022, when rates were 24%.

The economics of food, while it is tethered to farm production, for the average household it is tethered to income.  No matter the hunger, without income sufficient income, farmers and consumers experience a partial disconnect. Food-Bank executives are also chiming in that food insecurity is as much about income austerity as it is about agricultural productivity.

So what is a farmer to do if the economy struggles to send the appropriate financial signal to grow more?  For the time being, increased productivity and quality, so growers can survive in a competitive price environment is a partial answer.  Another tactic might be to employ biologicals that can potentially reduce the need for more expensive inputs.   The following news links provide a variety of perspectives into the food insecurity landscape.  The video below illustrates the issue of grocery store closures.  Is there another retail model growers can coalesce around, particularly local growers?

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