A very important interest…..

Observing that the challenge of feeding the world will require major efforts in coming years, U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas told a policy forum Oct. 12 that the University of Arkansas students at the event would share the burden of working on those issues.

Boozman delivered keynote remarks at the “Preparing for 21stCentury Policy Choices” forum. The event was sponsored by the Farm Journal Foundation and the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

“There are lots of different moving parts to this,” Boozman said. “We have the programs and we have in place certain policies. That’s why I want to thank you for having this kind of program so when you talk about all the moving parts that hopefully you can encourage these students to come up with some solutions.”

The event included the presentation of honors to two alumni of the department. Ed Fryar, a co-founder of Ozark Mountain Poultry in Rogers and a former professor in the department, received the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Nathan Reed, the owner and operator of Nathan B. Reed Farms and Eldon Reed Farms in Marianna, was recognized with the 2015 Young Alumnus award.

Improving global food security should be a U.S. priority because it is the right thing to do and it will create new market opportunities for American agriculture in the long run, said Stephanie Mercier, a senior policy and advocacy adviser for the Farm Journal Foundation.

A more stable world

Recognizing a U.S. tradition of aiding in world food relief dating back to World War I and including the Marshall Plan after World War II, Mercier noted that encouraging food security also promotes a more stable world. “The World Bank has done research that shows a country facing extreme poverty and hunger faces a much higher probability in any given year of seeing internal conflict erupt either in the form of a civil war or a military coup,” she said.

Mercier noted that the U.S. ability to help countries improve their economies has frequently led to the creation of new opportunities for U.S. exports. Fifty percent of U.S. agricultural exports go to developing countries, she said, and six of the world’s fastest growing economies are in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Over time, we know that a lot of the beneficiaries are agricultural systems that have now become significant commercial markets for U.S. food and agricultural exports,” she said. “These kinds of transitions do not happen overnight. They take decades sometimes.”

Mercier cited two nations that have realized major gains because of agricultural exports from the U.S. Guatemala experienced an approximately tenfold increase in agricultural imports from the U.S. between 1990 and 2014 with the value rising from $120 million to $1 billion. Corn, wheat and dairy exports were major components of the activity, she said, which would not have happened at that level without increasing demand in that part of the world and lower tariffs due to trade agreements.