It can to support American agriculture
But there’s more. American agriculture, from our farmers to our seed companies to our manufacturers and distributors, is one of our nation’s most valuable assets – not only because it does all these things, but because it remains an indispensable leader in our collective food security efforts.
Secretary Kerry has long recognized that – in his words – “economic policy is foreign policy.” And that’s why my bureau – the Economic and Business Affairs Bureau of the U.S. Department of State – is doing everything it can to support American agriculture, from opening markets to advocating for American business interests from our many embassies around the world.
We recognize good numbers when we see them. The agricultural sector has enjoyed its five strongest years in trade in the history of the United States. Its exports grew from $98.5 billion in 2009 to $144.1 billion in 2013, and its trade supports almost one million jobs at home.
We believe the reason for those impressive figures is simple enough – the sheer vibrancy of our American crops, livestock, agricultural equipment, and advanced agricultural technology. Preserving that vibrancy isn’t just critical for our economy, it’s a matter of national security, as the United States works with the global community to address the needs of a rapidly growing world population.
Right now, more than 800 million people are chronically undernourished. While that figure has gone down by more than 100 million over the last decade, we will still have to increase world food production by 60 per cent if we are going to meet the demands of nine billion people by the year 2050 – the estimated world population for that year. Not only that, we’ll have to respond to other food-security challenges, such as the effects of extreme weather, famine, as well as economic and political instability.