Ag economists document decline in productivity

By | October 2, 2009

Ag economists document decline in productivity

Food around the world is likely to become scarcer and more expensive if the United States and other developing countries do not bolster their investment in agricultural research, warns a team of economists from UC Davis and the University of Minnesota.In a Policy Forum paper published this month in the journal Science, the researchers documented a slowdown since 1990 in the growth rate of general agricultural productivity and in the growth rates of yields of specific crops including corn, rice, wheat and soybeans — the world’s major food and feed crops.

“The long-term consequences of a continuing slowdown in agricultural productivity growth could be dire, with more than 1 billion people around the world already suffering from malnutrition,” said UC Davis agricultural economist Julian Alston, an authority on the economic impact of government policy on agriculture.“It is critical that the United States and other developing countries revitalize their investments in agricultural research and development, which has been the main driver of long-term growth in agricultural productivity,” he said.

Alston and his colleagues, Philip Pardey and Jason Beddow of the University of Minnesota, noted that a number of factors — including climate change, land degradation, shifts to less productive areas, higher resource costs, evolving pests and diseases, and changes in governmental policies — have all contributed to the slowdown in agricultural productivity growth

“But part of the slowdown in productivity growth must be blamed on a slowdown in the growth rate of public and private investment in agricultural research and development, combined with a shift in research emphasis,” Alston noted.

– via UCDavis.edu

How bad will food shortages get in the US?  It might be fun to learn to grow sprouts.  I hear that years ago the smartest people survived starvation in North Korea this way. Storing some food and water is a good idea.

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