Here’s some food for thought: In the next four decades experts are predicting that the world’s population is likely to grow by 50 percent from 6 billion to 9 billion. That huge growth, along with a rising standard of living across the globe, leads inevitably to a forecast that we’ll have to double food production. But that increase is going to have to take place on the same or less land using the same or less water and energy.

And that’s not all. Food production will need to be safe and environmentally responsible as well. Sounds like an insurmountable challenge? It is not. Remember that American agriculture has seen dramatic growth during the last 100 years. In 1900, 38 percent of United States workers were employed in production agriculture and in 1940 each American farmer produced only enough to feed 19 people. In 2000, less than 2 percent of United States workers were employed in production agriculture and each farmer produced enough to feed 139 people.

Strong Academic Tradition

Texas is, unequivocally, a leader in our nation’s agriculture, contributing more than $100 billion to the state’s economy each year. In Texas, almost 80 percent of the total land area is in some type of agricultural production, and Texas is the nation’s leader in sales of cotton, cattle and calves, sheep and wool, goats and mohair and horses. The agriculture industry also supports one in seven Texas jobs.

But most people simply don’t realize there’s a reason why we Texans spend less than 10 percent of our disposable income on food, which is less than anywhere else in the world. (By comparison, the Chinese spend 34 percent of their disposable income on food.) One key factor for that disparity is the state’s strong academic tradition for training top-flight agricultural and natural resources scientists and professionals. These professionals help producers to be efficient, thus benefiting consumers in the pocketbook.