Dependence on Foreign Oil or Foreign Food?


There is a well established saying that capital follows opportunity. One has to wonder where the smart capital of the future is thinking about traveling to as the environment for food production in United States becomes increasingly politicized. Particularly, what are the economic and personal consequences of dependence on foreign sources of the main foodstuffs consumed by people in this country?

The United States has done an excellent job of both preventing and containing the outbreaks of "export stopping" diseases, especially in animals. This is vital if exports are expected to continue to rise as a percentage of total production. A quick look across the pond to the United Kingdom brings back the economic, political and animal welfare consequences of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. In the most recent outbreak, the bug has been tentatively identified as a strain which is used by one of the vaccine makers in the UK but all of this is preliminary at this point. However, what is not preliminary is that Japan has announced the curtailment of imports of UK pork meat. In 2001 about seven million sheep and cattle were euthanized and burned in the fields. Stringent control of travel, a complete freeze on movements of animals and a big gamble not to use the foot and mouth vaccine proved successful fairly quickly but at a loss in the tens of billions.

Slow Food, Farm Crisis and Let Me Know if Coffee Plants Will Grow Near You.

Let’s switch gears a minute and really go off the wall, since we have been looking at variation and crop prices in the last week or two. Some of you may be aware that there is a growing moment in the country to encourage the production of locally produced food. It is sometimes called the “slow food” movement which is to distinguish it from “fast food” which is almost uniformly condemned by everyone except those who consume it. The movement is more than just the local farmer’s market that may be springing up on your town square every weekend.

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