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Agrimarketing : March 2012
conflict; conflicts exacerbate food shortages, and areas of conflict become training grounds for terrorists who survive on instability. It is a vicious cycle that perpetuates and prevents generations of malnourished and hungry children from all hope of reaching their full potential. Hunger is a global tax on human potential that we all pay, and if left unchecked will become one none of us can afford. Beyond humanity's shared interest in food security, we also have a moral obligation to end hunger. The U.S., as the wealthiest and most successful agricultural producer in the world, bears a unique responsibility to lead the way forward. While the solution will be multifaceted, U.S. agriculture will play a critical role in responding to global hunger and population growth. U.S. farmers feed 20% of the world's population on 10% of the world's land. Farmers in the U.S. produce five times as much corn as they did in 1930 on 20% less land. In the past 20 years, corn and soybean productivity has increased 40% and 30%, respectively. During the same period, conservation farming techniques reduced soil erosion by 43%, and farmers are growing 70% more corn per pound of fertilizer. The U.S. agricultural system is one of the most successful economic enterprises ever built. But as impressive as that success is, it will not be enough to meet the world's increasing food needs and population growth. U.S. farmers have to continue pushing forward, farming in ways which ultimately produce even higher yields, but with significantly less environmental impact. Conservation-based agricultural production techniques are essential to the ability of U.S. farmers to sustainably produce more food, close the hunger gap and meet the needs of a growing population. To increase awareness and use of improved farming practices among U.S. farmers, the Foundation began a multi-million dollar educational campaign highlighting ways to save our soil and reduce our environmental footprint. Solutions include no-till, strip-till, nutrient management and cover crops. Against the backdrop of global food security and the need for U.S. agriculture to preserve finite natural resources, we launched the "Harvesting the Potential" campaign in January 2011. We have heard from farmers all over the U.S. who are using conservation agriculture techniques and nutrient-management systems to preserve soil and also increase crop yields. For more information, visit www.harvestingthepotential.org. A FOCUS ON SOILS Every farmer understands their natural working capital. If this capital is depleted, agronomic bankruptcy occurs. The images of starvation in Ethiopia are a result of agronomic bankruptcy. A lack of investment and poor policy decisions are contributing factors, but people starve and die when their land no longer produces sufficient crops. Soil devoid of biological activity, so-called "dead soil," cannot be revived by synthetic fertilizer or high-tech methods. An agricultural system --- such as the Green Revolution --- that relies on improved seeds (hybrids), mechanization, synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and irrigation largely ignores the biological factors that are necessary for long-term soil health and management. In order for developing countries to increase agricultural productivity and meet the current and growing demand for food, we first need a Brown Revolution that focuses on soil health. (more on page 39) March 2012 Agri Marketing 37 ABOUT HOWARD G. BUFFETT Mr. Buffett manages the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, a private charitable foundation. He operates a 1,400 acre family farm in central Illinois and oversees three foundation- operated research farms: 920 acres in Arizona, 2,546 acres in Illinois and 9,200 acres in South Africa. He currently serves on the Corporate Boards of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., an investment holding company; The Coca-Cola Company, the world's largest beverage company; Lindsay Corporation, a world-wide leader in the manufacturing of agricultural irrigation products, and Sloan Implement, a privately-owned distributor of John Deere agricultural equipment in North America. Buffett has served on the boards of Archer Daniels Midland, a leading world food processor; Coca-Cola Enterprises, Inc., the largest Coca-Cola bottler in the world; ConAgra Foods, one of North America's largest food service manufacturers and retail food suppliers, and Agro Tech Foods, a publicly-traded food manufacturing company in India. In 1997, Buffett became a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates; he received the Aztec Eagle Award from the President of Mexico in 2000, the highest honor bestowed on a foreign citizen by the Government of Mexico, and in 2002, he was recognized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture as one of the most distinguished individuals in agriculture. In 2005, he received the Will Owen Jones Distinguished Journalist of the Year Award, and in 2007, he was appointed a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Against Hunger on behalf of the World Food Programme. In 2011, he was awarded the Triumph of Agriculture Exposition Agri Award, the World Ecology Award and the George McGovern Leadership Award. He has traveled to over 100 countries and authored seven books on conservation, wildlife and the human condition. AM Howard G. Buffett
January February 2012