Amid the daily onslaught of news, you might not have dug into the August Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). But this report contains an alarming prediction: U.S. exports of agricultural products in Fiscal Year 2023 are expected to fall from current projections to $193.5 billion, while projected imports of agricultural products are expected to increase to a record $197 billion.
In other words, the United States is projected to become a net importer of food and fiber.
America’s food independence is an invaluable strategic asset and one that we absolutely cannot take for granted. Domestic food and fiber production strengthens our national security, and we never want to be dependent on other nations for supplies of critical foods.
As Texas Congressman and Air Force veteran August Pfluger recently told our Groundwork podcast: “We in the United States have to be extremely vigilant to… make sure that we can still produce our own food and not be reliant on actors in the international community who want to take us down.”
So, USDA’s forecast that our long-standing status as a net exporter is set to change warrants immediate attention on Capitol Hill. Especially as economic conditions and ongoing conflict put the global food supply in jeopardy.
António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, issued a dire warning when speaking to the Security Council on the destabilizing effect that Russia’s war has had on global fertilizer markets.
“If the fertilizer market is not stabilized, next year could bring a food supply crisis. Simply put, the world may run out of food,” Guterres said.
Thanks to America’s hardworking farm and ranch families, America still enjoys a robust supply of food. Our shelves here at home are stocked, and America’s farmers are quick to share their bounty with our global neighbors in need. However, our farmers have faced a cascade of challenges in recent years. If we want to maintain our food security, we must put our full support behind a robust farm safety net.
A North Dakota farmer and a Texas farmer recently teamed up to pen an opinion piece in The Hill, writing that “inflation and other threats to agriculture are putting our farms and our food security at risk…The stakes have never been higher.”
“Like all of America’s farmers, we’re willing to do what it takes to get the job done and feed people across our nation,” the farmers continued. “But as the number of farmers in America continues to dwindle, we need to take our food security seriously, especially as other nations are confronted by growing food scarcity and hunger.”
With a Farm Bill on the horizon, Congress has an opportunity to advance strong farm policies that support production agriculture. Because as we have said many times before: Food security does not happen by accident. It is a blessing that is fostered by smart policy.