Population Growth Could Strain Agriculture
A team of international scientists estimates the world will need to produce enough food to feed 9 billion people by mid-century. The report from the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) looks at the world's estimated population 40 years from now, then uses crop simulations to predict what food production will look like, and what will need to be done to meet the growing demand. That extra demand could put an added strain on American farmers, but could also be a boost to their business. "I don't think it's a problem...problems are always opportunities in disguise," says Dr. Ron Gill from the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
As one of the top agriculture producers in the world, Texas will continue to be at the forefront of meeting the world's food needs. However, our state faces some particular challenges. "The problem you will wind up with in the production sector is we are land-based and we are weather-based," says Dr. Gill. Indeed, weather issues like the drought of recent years can take a major toll on both crop and livestock production. The land-based problem is trying to balance the use of land for crop production and livestock production. "We just have to figure out how we can best work under the current production system to allow us to produce the proteins we need and the energy from grains we need," says Dr. Gill.
While states like Texas will continue to do their part to increase production to meet demand, feeding 9 billion people will also require more international food production, according to Dr. Gill. "I think the model of (America) feeding the world is gonna have to change, and the world is gonna have to start feeding itself," he says. The AgMIP study specifically looks at both developed and developing countries around the world and what they will need to do to help meet food needs. Dr. Gill predicts whatever happens, Texas will be ready to play a role. "The next 20 or 30 years may be pretty interesting in the food side of things," he says. "Hopefully we can all figure out how to produce what we need on the land we have available to us, and still manage our environment."