NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Markets Feed The Many

December 1, 1999

There have never been more people on earth -- six billion as of October 1 -- yet there are crops enough to go around, hampered only by distribution and affordability problems in countries that refuse to adopt market techniques.

  • Between 1994 and 1998, crop and livestock production throughout the world advanced on an average annual basis of 2.2 percent.
  • Among developing countries the increase was 3.4 percent annually.
  • In North America, the increase rate was 3.6 percent each year, on average.
  • However, production declined by 0.9 percent in Eastern Europe -- and by 6.5 percent annually in the former Soviet Republics.

A recent United Nations report noted that natural disasters were responsible for less than half the food emergencies in 1999 -- whereas they accounted for almost all of them as recently as 15 years ago. Now, civil strife is most often the culprit.

In 1900, just under 76 million people inhabited the U.S. Twenty years ago, the number was 227 million -- and is now about 275 million. But for the period from 1980 to 1996, total U.S. farm output for crops and livestock jumped 24.8 percent -- despite the fact that the amount of available farmland shrank 6.8 percent.

Source: Daniel J. Murphy, "Overpopulation Fears Fading Fast," Investor's Daily, November 26, 1999.


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