URBANA, Ill. -- Globalization of agriculture production and food will likely mean more regulations on producers and suppliers, said Robert G.F. Spitze, professor emeritus of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois.



"Where national boundaries and oceans once separated us, we are now in a world-wide market," said Spitze as he discussed significant changes in public agricultural policy over the last three-quarters of a century and then glanced at the potential future. "This means our food supply can originate from any field or processor on our planet.



"Carelessness at one peanut manufacturer, as we've seen, began affecting the whole world almost immediately. A problem in one location can have immediate impacts world-wide."



These interconnections focus attention on quality and safety assurance.



"We may well see increasing public control by human decision-makers over almost every detail of food production, marketing and distribution," he said. "Why? Because mistakes in any of these systems can have a devastating impact on health and safety.



"Some farmers and distributors are resisting this, but what happens when a whole crop of apples is wiped out or a herd of prize livestock is wiped out because they didn't have these protections?"



Born and raised in rural Arkansas, Spitze has a unique perspective on agricultural policy with on-farm experience combined with a multi-decade career as a distinguished agricultural economist.



"I can remember as a child looking out the window one morning and seeing a neighbor driving his herd of dairy cows down the road to town," he said. "They were collected in town, slaughtered, burned, and buried because they couldn't afford to feed them and there was no one to buy them."



Spitze remembers the day in 1939 when, for the first time, electricity came to his family's farm and being able to study by adequate lights.



"What an experience that was, and it was made possible by public agricultural policy," he said, referring to the New Deal Rural Electrification Act.



Broadly defined by Spitze, public agricultural policy can be traced back to the creation of public schools in frontier communities, setting aside public lands in every township to the mid-nineteenth century landmarks that created land-grant universities, agricultural research, and the experiment station system.



"In our public policy history today, I'd say there are five broad areas of vivid change," he noted. "The first involves the gradual broadening of what was once 'farm' policy to a diverse array of activities that treat problems of rural America