World population is swelling like a slow-moving tidal wave. In the past decade, the world’s population increased by almost 1 billion. Within the next four decades, experts expect the wave to grow by 50 percent, increasing to 9.4 billion people.At the same time, food prices have risen, investment in food production has fallen and available land for growing food has dwindled. The wave of population growth and the ebb in available food has eaten away at food security, stirring concern for how we will meet future demand. Last year, 1 billion people across the globe went hungry. The United Nations projects an additional 100 million will go hungry this year. Population growth is on track to outpace food production, if we don’t stem the tide.And, we can. We have.Between 1970 and 1990, the number of our neighbors going hungry decreased in large part due to U.S.-driven innovations in food production, particularly those put in place in Southeast Asia and Africa. Visionary policy neededWe can turn the storm if we ramp up food production now. The southeastern U.S. is the ideal place to chart a brighter, secure future. But we must have visionary policy in the 2012 Farm Bill.The five-year federal farm policy laid out in a farm bill influences areas of agriculture including farm payments, supplemental nutrition assistance programs (food stamps), international trade, conservation programs, rural community development, food safety and agricultural research. Improving federal investment is more important to the survival of the nation’s agricultural research and education system as state support is quickly evaporating. As we explore new ways to increase food production, ensure safety and improve storage and delivery, investment in the proven U.S. system of agricultural innovation is as important as your next meal. Many areas of the world simply will be unable to respond to this challenge. Asia has poor soils and limited rainfall and will be hard-pressed to increase food production. Africa remains hopeful, but until political instability is resolved, the continent will never be able to feed itself. South and Central America, while blessed with good soils and rainfall, will not likely cut down rainforests for enhanced production. And Europe, also with good soil and rainfall, will likely produce less food due to a variety of social policies that are causing the continent to stagnate. This leaves North America as the world’s hope for expanded food production. But even here, production patterns are changing. Available water in the West is declining. A decade from now there will be less food produced west of the Rockies than is produced there today. In the northern U.S., temperature and sunlight limit the amount of new food that will be produced. Southeast in perfect positionU.S. food production must increase, and the Southeast can lead the way. It’s an obligation and opportunity. In 2009, the U.S. imported $72 billion of agricultural products while we exported $98 billion of the same. We can widen the surplus even more. But past federal policies haven’t always focused on agriculture in the Southeast. This farm bill should.Congress is now holding listening sessions for the new farm bill that will see us through the next five years. Federal farm policy can either promote production in the Southeast, meeting the need, or limit production, putting more of the world’s poor in peril. We must explore every avenue for increasing production to keep more people fed. The only way the Southeast can increase food production to the region’s full potential is through science and technology. They aren’t making any more land. We must efficiently use what we have. U.S. agriculture is largely dependent on federal funding for research, development and training that leads to higher production. Yet, many agriculture funding streams are shrinking or drying up. More research neededMore research is needed to find ways to reduce production costs and increase farm profitability. While some research is generated from private companies, the private sector has no incentive to reduce inputs, which reduces their profits. No private business will invest in technologies that have limited economic return, but are vital to increasing food production.Reduced pesticide and fertilizer use, integrated pest management, water-use efficiency and natural resource conservation are important for the public good. We need these research and outreach programs. Only local, state and federal governments will support them.The land-grant university system was established to fill this void. Our federal, state and local partnership is the envy of the world. Many studies credit much of the success in American agriculture to the land-grant system. Our country has come a long way since the Great Depression, when nearly four out of every 10 Americans worked in food production. Today, less than 2 percent of the country’s population works on the farm. In the U.S. today, we spend much less on food than when 40 percent of Americans worked on farms. Many of the improvements that help farmers produce abundant, affordable food for exponentially more people came through technology developed at land-grant institutions. The land-grant system is ready to meet the challenges ahead. But the system requires commitment and funding to continue research into new technologies and to get them into the marketplace to improve the livelihoods of farmers around the world and to produce enough food to alleviate hunger. U.S. agriculture has a bright future. Strategic security needs for the U.S., pressing economic need for a positive trade balance and the humanitarian need to feed the world are coming together in a way that makes agriculture more important today than ever. Policies set forth in the next farm bill will dictate the direction we take.
LAS VEGAS — Floyd Mayweather has often teased the idea of competing in MMA with posts on social media. Although it would likely yield him a massive payday, the undefeated boxer would be at a serious disadvantage if he ever decided to enter the world of mixed martial arts. Still, some question if there is a dollar amount that would drag the 41-year-old into an Octagon. The short answer is “No.” Mayweather also shot down a return to boxing. He said he was happily retired and in the business of entertaining. He also teased that this wouldn’t be his only exhibition and that he was interested in putting on more shows like this across the globe. As far as money is concerned, Mayweather suggested that he doesn’t need the payday but is happy to “work smart and not hard” when an opportunity like this presents itself. He made it clear, however, that he’ll never put himself in a position where he could lose.In August 2016, Mayweather stopped MMA star Conor McGregor in the 10th round when the Irishman decided to step into the world of boxing. McGregor has offered to fight Mayweather under MMA rules, but The Money Team fighter said he has no desire to fight any MMA fighter under their rules. “I’m not going into somebody else’s cage and do what they do. Everybody knows that Floyd Mayweather is a boxer. If anybody wants to fight against me, it’s in a boxing ring,” he said. MORE: Join DAZN and watch Canelo plus more than 100 fight nights a yearMayweather addressed the possibility during a media day for his upcoming boxing exhibition against Japanese kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa that will likely headline Rizin 14 on New Year’s Eve in Tokyo. Mayweather held court to address details regarding his three-round exhibition that will have no judges and will be fought under boxing rules. When a reporter asked why Mayweather wouldn’t allow the fight with Nasukawa to be under MMA rules, the five-weight world champion seemingly grew annoyed with the question.”Everything is always on my terms because I am the ‘A’ side,” he said. “I’m not going to fight in an MMA ring. If I do fight in an MMA ring (it will be) boxing only. Everything is my rules, my way. I work hard to put myself in the position where I call all of the shots. He may be a kickboxer, but he has to abide by my rules, simple and plain.”The retired champion said he would be earning a seven-figure payday for his exhibition and will be taking home more than most fighters who put themselves through grueling training camps for a 12-round fight.”No disrespect to Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury, but I’m making more in a nine-minute exhibition (than) what they made after their heavyweight fight last weekend,” he said.