Are we in the “perfect storm” of circumstances that’s shooting off lightening bolts about the agrifood business? Let’s take a look at conditions that are putting food production into the limelight – and not in a very kindly fashion.
- Farm Bill: Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on payment limits, the lengthy and contentious debate about the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (not 2007!) turned the spotlight on and the President’s lack of support has increased the wattage.
- Food Prices: Associated Press is calling it “the worst food inflation in 17 years” (http://www.recordpub.com/news/article/3632191) and prices are projected to increase more in 2008. The grocery bill, projected to rise another 4.5% in 2008 by USDA, is keeping all food-related issues top-of-mind with consumers.
- Energy Debate: Have you filled up your gas tank lately? Then you know how dear this subject is and Ethanol/Biodiesel is not being shown as the savior. Bioenergy is either guilty of raising food prices, over-subsidized or causing environmental damage – according to our pundits.
- International Food Crisis: It doesn’t matter that agricultural experts have pointed to the growing population as one of the most significant needs for technology to increase food production. The cry from around the world about food shortages and high prices does not bode well for those producing the food.
Between these four issues and a several others, farmers are easily being painted as greedy and rich during a time where people are short on cash and food. Don’t shoot the messenger; just know that people who haven’t set foot on a farm recently believe what’s in the popular press. Work some of the following points in your conversation with influencers, neighbors, friends, colleagues, et al:
- Soaring input prices are impacting your bottom line (see http://www.illinoisagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=236&yr=2008 for an example).
- Your decreasing percentage of the food dollar (go to blog entry from April).
- Bionergy isn’t the significant force behind increasing food prices (http://www.americanfuels.info/2008/04/texas-studies-ethanols-effect-on-food.html).
- Your role our national food security – it’s important with the scares from China in the last year.
- 2/3 of the “Farm Bill” is not for farmers, it’s for nutrition programs such as WIC.
- How technology produces more food to help more people and why you are proud of that!
Perhaps the strong winds from this perfect storm will motivate you to talk about this business. If not, then don’t complain about the damage that’s caused by the storm!