The importance of open food markets

In response to Mike’s recent post in support of farm subsidies, I offer this recent column by Kate Heartfield:

But the question that should be keeping us all up at night isn’t whether the planet can grow enough food. The real question is whether every human being will be able to access that food. That’s what’s really difficult — and that’s where the natural inclinations of democratic governments might work against humanity’s interests. Funding agricultural research is important, but it’s a relatively easy political sell. Opening up markets and reforming institutions so food can flow freely — that takes courage.

Castillo, a cattle farmer from Uruguay, also has a long background in trade negotiations. He predicts that there will be more trade in food in the coming years as domestic supplies become inadequate, and that agricultural trade will become a bigger policy priority for governments.

My opinion would be closer to Ms. Heartfield’s than to Mike’s. Plus, she gets bonus points for use of the term, ‘scuba rice’.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. So where does the food come from that ‘hungry’ markets need?

  2. The problem of food supply comes in two parts: food, the part that gets all the press, and supply, which is somewhat less obvious.

    The command economies of the USSR and China never got the Supply part to work. They’d grow lots of produce and couldn’t get it to market effectively. Not for lack of trying: the USSR was trying to play catchup with the West and thought they could leapfrog the West by putting an emphasis on railroads to cover the great distances involved. Trouble was, they couldn’t get the produce to the railhead and didn’t have the storage facilities and grain elevators to store it when it arrived.

    Part of the Supply problem will be solved once we’ve gotten cell phone and Internet technology into the hinterlands. The growers must be connected to the buyers. That’ll solve about half the problem. The remaining half, getting perishable produce to the table requires logistical support at both ends.

  3. Yes, thank you. There’s no shortage of food in the world. There’s a distorted distribution.

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