Economists Question if Agriculture is Important
By Pamela Haines, Quaker social justice educator with a concern for economics and the environment
Some leading economists have asserted that, since agriculture accounts for only 3% of Gross National Product, losing that sector would not have much impact on the overall system. This scenario—an economy whose numbers stays healthy without agriculture, while its people try to manage without food—is a mind-bender.
We bend our minds, struggling to make sense of these things, when the answer is right in front of our faces, too simple to see: they don’t make any sense. This way of thinking about economics cannot solve our problems. We’ll have to wade in among the experts, brush past the thick curtains of numbers, and demand that our economic system be based squarely on the needs of its constituent human beings.
Herman Daly of the University of Maryland’s School of Public Affairs does just that by unmasking the errors in the thinking of economists who argue that no one should worry about climate change impacting agriculture, because agriculture is such a small percentage of our economic output.