Trade means that a country does not have to be self-sufficient in agriculture to be food secure. Through trade, nations can reduce food costs, diversify diets, increase food quality and achieve a level of prosperity that improves the quality of life for their people as well as greater political and social stability.
The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations defines food security as access by all people, at all times, to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
Countries such as China, Japan, Brazil and many others have used international agricultural trade to raise their standards of living. Unfortunately, however, many other nations continue to struggle with hunger and poverty because they have not yet fully accepted trade as a tool in building food security.
Japan is one of largest and most loyal international customers of U.S. coarse grains and is an excellent example of how trade helps ensure food security. Since the 1960s, Japan has enriched its diet through expansion of its domestic livestock industry, based heavily on imported U.S. grain, as well as increased meat imports. Today, the Japanese livestock producer and the U.S. grain farmer are longstanding partners and crucial pillars of that nation’s food security system.
Population growth, a rapidly expanding middle class and increasing affluence in developing countries will continue to generate rapidly rising demand for food, both as bulk commodities as well as for processed and higher value-added foods.
Many countries face significant land, water, and other production constraints and these are likely to increase over time, as populations continue to grow. These nations will therefore have an increasing incentive to utilize agricultural imports to help meet rising demand. The Council is working to establish and sustain U.S. agriculture as their preferred and most reliable supplier.