GAP Report: Uncertainty about trade, regulation hamper U.S. farmers | TheFencePost.com

GAP Report: Uncertainty about trade, regulation hamper U.S. farmers

Uncertainty about trade opportunities and regulation factors are hampering U.S. farmers in planning for the future, according to the 2017 GAP Report released Oct. 19 by the Global Harvest Initiative on the sidelines of the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogues in Des Moines.

For the fourth straight year, global agricultural productivity growth is not accelerating fast enough to sustainably feed the world in 2050, according to the report by GHI, a private sector organization focused on agricultural productive growth. GHI's members include DuPont, Elanco Animal Health, Farmland Partners Inc., John Deere, Monsanto Company, The Mosaic Company and Smithfield Foods, and it has partners in conservation organizations, universities and multilateral development banks.

According to the GAP Report, global agricultural productivity must increase by 1.75 percent annually to meet the demands of nearly 10 billion people in 2050. GHI's annual assessment of global productivity growth ­­­­— the GAP Index — shows the current rate of growth is only 1.66 percent.

Uncertainty about trade opportunities and regulations complicates planning for U.S. farmers and industry. They also are aware of consumer questions about their products and production practices and share their concerns about the safety and sustainability of food and agriculture.

"The global agriculture sector must renew our commitment to engage in dialogue with consumers through active conversation and collaboration. Farmers and consumers share the same goals, but often there is an information gap between them," said Doyle Karr, biotechnology public policy director for DuPont and chair of the GHI board of directors, in a news release.

Noting U.S. farmers also are concerned about low commodity prices and high input costs, Karr added, "We must prioritize public and private agricultural research and development and improvements to regulatory systems to stimulate innovations that improve productivity and reduce costs for farmers."

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The long-term prospects for food security will be undermined further by low agricultural productivity growth, particularly in Africa and South Asia, according to GHI's analysis in the 2017 GAP Report.

"If agricultural productivity growth continues to decline, there will be significant ramifications for the economic vitality and environmental sustainability of food and agriculture systems. Farmers in low-income, food-deficit countries will use more land and water to increase their output, straining a natural resource base already threatened by extreme weather events and climate change," said Margaret Zeigler, executive director of GHI.

The 2017 GAP Report highlights innovations and practices farmers are using to conserve soil and water, diversify to reduce risks and build stable businesses they can leave for their children. With precision agriculture, advancements in seed, fertilizer, biotechnologies and animal welfare practices, farmers can manage costs while producing more and protecting their soils, water quality and animal health, according to the report.

The report was released at an event in Des Moines with a panel consisting of Zeigler; Karr; Stewart Leeth, vice president of Regulatory Affairs and chief sustainability officer, Smithfield Foods; Juan José Molina Echeverry, veterinarian and rancher, El Hatico Nature Reserve, Colombia; Sally Rockey, executive director, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research; and Wendy Wintersteen, endowed dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Iowa State University.