Veteran farm policy observer William Lesher has spent most of a long Washington career dealing with agricultural surpluses and the need to idle farm land. So it was hard, he admits, to convince him the era of oversupply has ended and the future is more likely to be defined by the need to ramp up production.
But now, says the former USDA official under President Ronald Reagan, “The undeniable fact is that we are going to have to double output. You are going to be constrained in bringing in land and water.”
Lesher added that modern farming techniques will produce most of what’s needed to feed a global population expected to hit 9 billion by 2050 -- it's nearly 7 billion now. While some in developing countries favor less scientific methods, Lesher said, “You’ve got to give modern agriculture some love and attention, too.”
An economist, Lesher now addresses the challenge of feeding an expanding world as head of the Global Harvest Initiative. He made his comments in a mid-July speech to the American Soybean Association.