Are We Really on a Road to Nowhere?

Globalisation, in all of its forms, has ensured that markets will rule the day, and the interests of producers will have to suffer the consequences.
Robin Limb | Author | Oped Column Syndication
Robin Limb

As primary producers, farmers will always be at the sharp end of the supply chain. John F. Kennedy famously once said that: “Farming is the only industry where you buy retail; sell wholesale…and pay the transport costs both ways.”

Food production is a unique industry – without it, nothing else happens. Unfortunately, it has also become a highly politicized industry, with stakeholders of all colors and creeds rushing to join the party. It is no longer just about putting food on your plate: it involves multinational giants, NGO’s, governmental organizations, and many others besides, all with their own agenda to peddle.

The hapless farmer may be forgiven for wondering what is really going on. Once upon a time, you put seed in the ground; you tended it through the growing season, and then you harvested it and sold it for a small reward. Nowadays, those principles seen to have vanished in a puff of smoke.

Globalization, in all of its forms, has ensured that markets will rule the day, and the interests of producers will have to suffer the consequences.

The capacity of agriculture to exceed demand remains its achilles heel. Ignoring the interference of speculators, the simple market fundamentals of supply and demand will always rule. Until there is a crop failure somewhere on the planet, demand will confound supply, and commodity prices will remain on the deck.

Not a single day goes by without reference to the world’s growing population that is predicted to reach nine (09) billion in 2050 from its current level of seven (07) billion.

In reality, it won’t if sufficient food is not available, and that will only happen if we stop treating food supply as just another commodity. As Milton Freidman advocated decades ago: “If you wish to throw dietary staples to the vagaries of the free market, just be prepared to go hungry 50% of the time.”

Agricultural support may appear distasteful and unnecessary to the man in the street, but ask yourself: “What is the alternative…putting the cart before the horse…?”

Robin Limb is an independent agricultural consultant from Hunstanton, Norfolk, United Kingdom.

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