Does the World Need U.S. Farmers Even If Americans Don'T?

27 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2006

See all articles by Mary Hendrickson

Mary Hendrickson

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences

Harvey S. James, Jr.

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences

William D. Heffernan

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences

Date Written: September 2006

Abstract

We consider the implications of trends in the number of U.S. farmers and food imports on the question of what role U.S. farmers have in an increasingly global agrifood system. Our discussion stems from the argument some scholars have made that American consumers can import their food more cheaply from other countries than it can produce it. We consider the distinction between U.S. farmers and agriculture and the effect of the U.S. food footprint on developing nations to argue there might be an important role for U.S. farmers, even if it appears Americans don't need them. For instance, we may need to protect U.S. farmland and, by implication, U.S. farmers, for future food security needs both domestic and international. We also explore the role of U.S. farmers by considering the question of whether food is a privilege or a right. Although Americans seem to accept that food is a privilege, many scholars and commentators argue that, at least on a global scale, food is a right, particularly for the world's poor and hungry. If this is the case, then U.S. farmers might have a role in meeting the associated obligation to ensure that the poor of the world have enough food to eat. We look at the consequences of determining that food is a right versus a privilege and the implications of that decision for agricultural subsidies as well as U.S. agriculture and nutrition policies.

Keywords: U.S. agriculture policy, global agrifood system, agricultural exports and imports, U.S. food footprint, agricultural subsidies, right to food

JEL Classification: D63, I31, Q18

Suggested Citation

Hendrickson, Mary and James, Harvey S. and Heffernan, William D., Does the World Need U.S. Farmers Even If Americans Don'T? (September 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=931890 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.931890

Mary Hendrickson

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences ( email )

200b Gentry Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
United States
573-882-7463 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://maryhendrickson.wordpress.com

Harvey S. James (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences ( email )

Columbia, MO
United States
573-884-9682 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://hsjames2.wordpress.com

William D. Heffernan

University of Missouri at Columbia - Division of Applied Social Sciences ( email )

332 Cornell Hall
Columbia, MO 65211
United States

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