One of the big policy issues in debates about economic development (mostly for poor countries) surrounds the issue of food security and sovereignty. Food First and other groups have brought a lot of attention to what happens when agribusiness in both rich and poor countries undermine a country's ability to feed itself.
Believe it or not, food deficits are not just an issue for poor countries anymore. The United States too has been on the verge of an overall agricultural trade deficit (defined as most things that grow out of the earth plus animals minus lumber and fisheries) for several years - much to the contrary of the vision of America's role in the global trading system sold to U.S. farmers.
And when you take a closer look at the numbers, as you can do over at USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, you'll note that in most major categories of food - fruits, vegetables, dairy, sweets and other horticultural products - the U.S. is running deficits.
In fact, the only agricultural areas where the U.S. consistently has a surplus are in grains, feedstocks and a few others - which, as our buddy Tim Wise and company over at Tufts have shown - are as much about what animals in factory farms eat as what humans eat.
This is just part of the reason why rural voters in red states are even more likely than urban voters in blue states (PDF) to oppose NAFTA expansion (as measured through intense concerns about jobs) - nearly the opposite of a decade ago. Any political party hoping to make pick ups in these areas take note.