Food Availability in the U.S.
On Monday, America celebrated National Food Day. This is generally a day to celebrate all things “food,” with a focus on health and nutrition.
Not all food is considered healthy and nutritious, though, and in some areas food can be quite difficult to access. Food security is a type of national security. For the United States, providing enough food in the areas where it is needed, and education about that food, is vital for consumers.
There are a number of rural areas within the U.S. in which the nearest grocery store is more than 30 miles away. Even if a smaller village or town has a store, high prices could mean that they don’t sell much of an item. Store owners are forced to provide more shelf-stable foods (a type of food that can be safely stored at room temperature in a sealed container) and to sell products at a price that is sustainable for the owner to operate. Unfortunately, the combination of these factors limits the availability of more “fresh and healthy” options for many Americans, unless they choose to travel to a larger city.
“Many Americans don’t realize that food deserts exist in the U.S.,” said Sterling Smith, ASNA Edge’s Director of Ag Research. “The U.S. does not rank in the top five for food availability in the world.”
In other places, such as Smith’s home of Omaha, Nebraska, access to multiple grocery stores and specialty markets are the norm. Smith can purchase a variety of items within blocks of his home. “I had a friend who had only seen grocery stores in Germany and in New York City; he was struck with amazement when he saw one in suburban Minneapolis,” Smith said. “The choices in various parts of the country vary greatly.”
How Crop Insurance Can Help
Americans rely on farmers and ranchers to combat these issues. “It shouldn't be lost on anyone that the American farmer plays a key role in providing food, not just in the U.S. but throughout the world,” said Smith. But this year, producers have faced many challenges—especially drought.
While the crops themselves have obviously suffered, drought also affects transportation. The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers are very low due to reduced rains, and low water levels make the rivers more difficult to traverse, increasing food transportation costs. This is in addition to the rising food prices caused by lower production during the drought.
Crop insurance can help alleviate concerns like these, and thus plays a vital role in food security. In 2020, there were a record 398 million acres enrolled in crop insurance, which covered approximately $114 billion worth of crops. These include corn, beans, wheat, and specialty and organic crops.
While we may not like the prices we are seeing at the grocery store today, we are in fact very fortunate. Without crop insurance, farmers and ranchers might have to shut down production during difficult years such as this one. If that happened, the U.S. would be forced to import food, and prices would skyrocket.
AgriSompo North America is proud to offer crop insurance through the RMA program. We have several work groups who assist in developing new options that help producers overcome the difficulties they face pertaining to weather, prices, and the economy.
As an international crop insurance provider, AgriSompo strives to ensure the availability of crop insurance in order to provide global consistency of production and support the diversity of food options for everyone.
Additionally, Sterling Smith and the rest of our ASNA Edge team provide easy-to-understand market insights and commentary for American growers. The goal of ASNA Edge is to empower producers with the confidence to enhance every crop insurance policy with a quality revenue management plan. Click here to learn more and to sign up for our services.