Our global food and agriculture system is in the midst of unprecedented change. World population growth has accelerated, rising from 2.5 billion in 1950, to 6 billion in 2000, to a projected 9 billion by 2050, putting the world’s food and agriculture system capacity under increasing stress. At the same time, globalization and the development of emerging markets have produced a burgeoning global middle class with more disposable income. Adding to the complex, fluid environment, climate change threatens to disrupt the global and local food supply chains.
All of these factors will contribute to a dramatic and sustained increase of agricultural exports of all kinds—including commodities and processed foods—to global markets.
Illinois has the history and the expertise to thrive in this new era of food and agriculture. Our state is at the center of the Midwest, one of the world’s most fertile and productive regions, and is home to Chicago, one of the world’s top global cities and a hub for trade.
The Chicago metropolitan area, with more than 9 million consumers, is also a strong market driver of enterprise and innovation around local and resilient food systems and a partner for the state in developing the technologies and business models to address new consumer expectations and evolving regulatory standards.
Illinoisans, like others around the United States and the world, are focused on the nutrition, safety, and sustainability of the food they eat. They view the food and agriculture system as a vital component of the fabric of successful rural and urban communities.
Historically, Illinois has long been a leader in food and agriculture. However, the state cannot rest on its impressive laurels. The evolution in the global food and agriculture system will require coordinated leadership to foster new understanding, new approaches, and new cooperation if Illinois is to not only remain competitive but also seize the reins and lead that change.