Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Cornhusker Economics (November 2011)


Published by University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension, Institute of Agriculture & Natural Resources, Department of Agricultural Economics. Copyright © [2011] Board of Regents, University of Nebraska.


According to the United Nations, the world’s population hit seven billion on October 31, 2011. The United Nations is projecting the world population to reach 9.3 billion by 2050. The new population landmark set off alarms in governments and organizations around the world. Most of the growth will occur in the poorest and least developed regions of the world, which already must work to resolve issues related to shortages of quality food, soil, air and water. Many people living in these countries also lack access to education, healthcare and global political capital.

More developed countries face many of the same issues in a different way. Agriculture has been so successful that many people living in the developed world enjoy a high degree of food security, but are separated from the growth and production processes. Consumers, in places like the United States, have become accustomed to buying whatever they need or want at a low price. Many consumers see only finished products in attractive wrapping on their shelves. For these people, it is difficult to understand the role that agriculture plays in their daily lives. It is also difficult for many people to understand the relationships between high consumption and environmental and political stability.