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Consumers today want a personal exposure to plant and animal production, says Lowell Catlett, agricultural economist, futurist, and dean of New Mexico State University’s College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences.
Feeding the world
In those days the world population was about 4 billion people. About 1,300 calories of food per day per person was generally available, but not enough to adequately sustain the human body. Starvation was common.
Today’s more productive agriculture with higher yields feeds about 6.6 billion people. About 2,600 calories are available on average per person.
“We won the (production) battle,” Catlett said. “We can feed the world.”
Maslow’s next pyramid step is to find someone to share food, love and acceptance. This again is dream space. Some people want organically- and locally-grown food, food grown under carbon neutral conditions, and free range chickens.
“I grew up on a ranch and we had free range chickens,” Catlett smirked. “You watch what they eat (their own manure). I prefer my chicken grown on corn and soybeans.”
“Five years ago some European supermarkets began placing photos and videos in the stores of the actual farmers who grew the food on the store shelves. This allowed consumers to put a face with the crop and learn how the farmer grew the crop.”
Today in New Mexico, ranchers earn about 15 percent of their income from hunters in search of prized trophy animals.
Corn farmers are benefitting from the public’s puzzling interest in agriculture.
“Who would have thought that someone would pay to get lost in a corn maize?” Catlett quipped.
Research results enforce the belief that people enjoy the presence of plants and animals. A Ferrari automotive plant in Italy has glass walls so workers can watch the plants grow outside and observe cows grazing on the hillsides. As a result worker productivity increased.
“We know the healing power of animals; we like to be together,” Catlett said. “Those of us in agriculture know the healing power of the presence of a cow or horse.”