Letter to the Editor: Feeding the world — a noble purpose
Every person, every organization and every nation seems to thrive best when they are fulfilling their mission in life, their purpose for existing, stepping up and doing their part for the common good. There is something about that fact that harmonizes with our core values as humans. We desire to be useful. Different parts of our great country become appreciated for some specific contributions that they excel at: New York is known for fine arts and financial institutions, Florida is known for orange juice and a warm winter destination, California is known for technology and wine production, Wyoming for scenic wild places, and North Dakota and Texas are known for oil and gas production. The states in these examples have recognized their strengths and the natural resources that have been provided to them and have created economic opportunity for their citizens while fulfilling a vital purpose for the rest of the country and even the world.
So one might ask, what is our purpose in South Dakota? What do we contribute to the nation and world? There will be several answers to that I am sure, but one that must be high on such a list is the same thing that brought our pioneer forefathers to the northern Great Plains, the quest to fulfill a noble purpose, to produce food for our families, our nation, and even the world. We have been blessed with a tremendous natural resource in this region: fertile land to grow crops, moisture, sun, and room to raise food producing animals. The task of feeding the nation and world is no small chore. Both are growing by millions and billions – and according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, by 2050 we will need 70% more total food to feed the estimated 9 billion hungry people at that time. Worldwide food animal protein demand is projected to grow by 60%; some suggest demand may double in more affluent societies.
The South Dakota poultry producers are ready to contribute resources to the challenge of feeding the world, and create opportunities for our state to continue to excel in food production. South Dakota and food production is a great match, it just makes sense for us and opportunities should continue to come our way if we are receptive. As citizens and decision makers debate food animal production expansion in our state, such as the current proposed chicken egg farm near Parker South Dakota, I ask that they keep these facts in mind. Modern poultry production operations such as the one proposed are highly managed quality business operations that bring economic opportunity to our citizens and eventually also to our children and grandchildren.
Food production has been our proud heritage in South Dakota since we became a part of this great nation. I am convinced that modern sustainable food production is also our future destiny, one we can be proud to be recognized for. This wisely uses our natural and human resources, and provides us with a way to make a living while fulfilling a most noble purpose – feeding the world!
David H. Zeman, DVM, PhD, DACVP
South Dakota Poultry Industries Association