Lugar says Indiana farm production can lead economic recovery

News release from US Senator Richard Lugar:

Lugar Says Indiana Farm Production Can Lead Economic Recovery

(March 8, 2011) – Indiana Senator Dick Lugar, in a series of events and meetings during the past day, repeatedly made the case that farmers and life-stock producers in Indiana and across the United States can lead an economic recovery.

“The Midwest is the Persian Gulf of corn and soy beans, and these big crops and high returns will help Indiana recover from this recession,” Lugar said. “Every farm community will benefit from this incredible economic opportunity, as will all trade, transportation, manufacturing and financial businesses connected to farming.”

In the past day Lugar:

[list type=”black”]
[li]Was awarded the Gene White Lifetime Achievement Award for Child Nutrition from the Global Child Nutrition Foundation;[/li]
[li]Discussed child nutrition and medical assistance with philanthropist Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft;[/li]
[li]Met with representatives of Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana in Fort Wayne and the Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana in Muncie; and[/li]
[li]Discussed school lunch programs with officials from Red Gold Company a large producer of tomato products located in the east central Indiana town of Orestes.[/li]
[/list]

Lugar’s award and his meetings took place when food production, food supplies and food security have all reached a “perfect storm” of domestic and international concern during the past several weeks. Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and member and former Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has been following the events closely.

During the past week, international food prices have risen at a rate faster than ever. This is causing political unrest across the world, especially in the volatile Middle East, where conflict has led to higher gasoline prices for most Americans. In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to announce later this week that American farmers will plant the biggest and most profitable corn crop ever this coming season.

“We are on the precipice of the greatest challenge to our planet’s food system in our lifetimes,” Lugar said. “It is currently estimated that nearly one billion people suffer from food insecurity, many of whom live on the equivalent of less than 50 cents a day. These statistics are not easy to comprehend, but the consequences are manifest. Malnutrition leads to stunting, disease, poor intellectual development and shortened life spans. As we have already seen in places like Tunisia and Egypt, the lack of food, or skyrocketing prices for staples, can help foment civil unrest.”

Indiana and American farmers, and every business associated with agriculture, can take advantage of the “staggering prediction is that we must double food production globally by 2050 to feed the estimated world population of nine billion people,” Lugar said.

“Better seeds can be produced using traditional plant breeding techniques and, more recently, through advanced methods known as biotechnology,” Lugar said. “In Indiana, biotechnology is used to produce 78% of the corn crop and 96% of its soybean crop. It allows scientists to cross breed plants and to isolate beneficial genes so plants can produce more while resisting insects, drought, and certain types of pesticides.”

Lugar continued, “In fact, a number of U.S. seed companies predict that crop yields can be doubled in the next 20 years based largely on the benefits from biotechnology. In the 1940’s my late father, Marvin Lugar, was able to produce about 40 bushels of corn on each acre he farmed. Today, on the same Lugar farm in Indianapolis, we use modern technology and exceed 160 bushels on those same acres.”

“Ever since my days on the Indianapolis school board, I have cared deeply about policies affecting hunger, especially among children, as a humanitarian issue, but also as an issue affecting economic growth and prosperity,” Lugar said in receiving the child nutrition award.

“Children have no choice in the circumstances they are born into, yet access to nutrition remains vital to their ability to learn and grow.”

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