MacMillan Calls for Better Food Policies

MacMillan Calls for Better Food Policies

Cargill Chairman Emeritus Whitney MacMillan recently warned that misguided policies and lack of understanding are contributing to escalating food prices and risk seriously compromising future global food security.

In remarks to the Blake School alumni in Minneapolis, MacMillan cited current ethanol policy as just one example of how well-intentioned but poorly thought-through policies can contribute to run-ups in food prices and distortions in the market economics needed to assure the availability of food needed by a rapidly escalating global population.

Four in ten bushels of corn now produced in the United States now go to production of ethanol, he noted. Such massive diversion of a cornerstone commodity from food to fuel use isn’t the sole factor behind recent run-ups in commodity prices, he acknowledged, but its effects cannot be ignored.

“Bad ag policy is no cure for bad energy policy,” he said.

MacMillan warned that the task of feeding a global population that will increase to over 10 billion by 2050 will require adoption of policies that allow markets to function as freely as possible and trade to expand to exploit comparative advantage wherever it exists.

Feeding the bigger, hungrier world is possible, he said, if nations recognize and embrace the critical role of improved plant genetics and other improving agricultural technologies, especially those related to better crop production and better crop-production management. Adoption of such enlightened policies not only will help expand food production to meet anticipated demand growth but also will do more to protect and sustain the earth’s natural resources, he said.

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