For many years, the U.S. food and fiber system has provided the Nation with an abundance of food and fiber at a reasonable cost. This effort has "greatly benefited from the industrialization of agriculture; and increasingly it has entailed close ties among the system's sectors, particularly those that supply inputs to farming, processing, and distribution of agricultural products. The system's performance has seldom been questioned. Recently, however, its efficient performance has been hampered by a combination of domestic and foreign developments, especially those related to energy. Research and information are needed to reveal more about the performance of the various sectors of the system and their interrelationships. Impediments to performance need to be identified and opportunities for more efficient performance explored. Though this publication mainly describes the current structure and performance of the food and fiber system, it also identifies some steps that would lead to improved future performance.