AGree charts path to address challenges facing the food and agriculture system

May 2, 2012, Agree

Today at a panel discussion, AGree, an initiative designed to inform and address food and agriculture policy issues through the direct engagement of diverse groups, unveiled its vision for the global food and agriculture system in 2030 and strategies to advance that vision.

AGree is committed to developing a broad framework for action around four interrelated challenges that face the food and agriculture system. These include: meeting future demand for food; conserving and enhancing water, soil, and habitat; improving nutrition and public health; and strengthening farms, workers, and communities.

“The challenges facing food and agriculture require collaboration and a bold vision for the future,” said Deborah Atwood, Executive Director of AGree. “AGree seeks to drive positive change in the food and agriculture system by connecting and challenging leaders from diverse communities to catalyze action and elevate food and agriculture policy as a national priority. We are taking an integrated approach. We cannot afford to remain in our silos if we want to solve problems.”

In 2012 and 2013, AGree will focus on five strategic priorities for achieving its long-term vision:

  • Redirect and modernize research, education, and extension institutions in the United States and developing countries
  • Ensure vulnerable populations’ access to nutritious food
  • Align agricultural and food production in the United States with improved environmental outcomes
  • Create a stable, legal food and agriculture workforce in the United States
  • Attract young people to food and agriculture

“Despite the capacity, acumen, and talent that is so clearly evident in the U.S. food and agriculture system today, we must challenge ourselves and the international community to find ways to make the best possible use of natural resources, technology, and human potential,” said Dan Glickman, Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and one of four AGree Co-Chairs. “AGree’s evolving plan of work will focus on developing specific recommendations for public policy, the private sector, and civil society that, over the next decade, can set the stage for continual and transformative change that will affect and benefit us all.”

Jim Moseley, Former Deputy Secretary, USDA, and AGree Co-Chair, elaborated: “Our goal is to elevate food and agricultural policy as a national policy priority and we cannot succeed on our own. This will require partnerships, collaboration, and involvement by all stakeholders.”

Since its launch last year, AGree has assembled a group of stakeholders that represents diverse viewpoints and, importantly, is committed to searching for innovative, transformative solutions to today’s most pressing global issues facing food and agriculture. AGree’s advisory committee includes members with varied viewpoints, backgrounds and experiences, including farmers, executives, policymakers, and academics, among others.

“AGree is designed to bring together people who do not traditionally agree. However, we’re all committed to working together to find solutions to the challenges facing food and agriculture,” said Gary Hirshberg, AGree Co-Chair and Co-Founder and Chairman of Stonyfield Farm. “After all, we all have a voice and role in determining our future food and agricultural system.”

“In this dynamic new century, all nations have a stake in taking actions that will ensure the stability, health, and well-being of our global community,” added Emmy Simmons, AGree Co-Chair and Former Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “The food and agriculture system connects the global community with a shared sense of purpose. AGree must similarly engage a wide community to drive transformation of this critical system.”

While AGree has identified its initial priorities, the group will continue to look for connections among and opportunities to make progress on all of its key strategies, which include:

  • Increase agricultural productivity
  • Align U.S. diet with Dietary Guidelines
  • Encourage diversity and coexistence of farming systems
  • Attract young people to food and agriculture
  • Create a stable, legal workforce
  • Advance landscape-scale management
  • Provide access to risk management tools
  • Reduce post-harvest waste
  • Strengthen regional food systems
  • Ensure access to nutritious food
  • Align production & environmental outcomes
  • Enable adaptation to change
  • Understand and reduce adverse health impacts
  • Redirect research, education, and extension priorities and strengthen institutions

All four Co-Chairs shared their views about the future of food and agriculture along with a distinguished panel that included:

  • Charles Benbrook, Chief Scientist, Organic Center
  • Jeremy Embalabala, Board of Trustees, National 4-H Council
  • Eric Olsen, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy, Feeding America
  • A.G. Kawamura, Strawberry Farmer and former California Secretary of Agriculture
  • Pat O’Toole, Rancher and President of the Family Farm Alliance
  • Johanna Nesseth Tuttle, Vice President for Strategic Planning, Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Judith Redmond, Co-Owner, Full Belly Farm
  • Barton Seaver, Chef, Author, Speaker and National Geographic Fellow
  • Rod Snyder, Director of Public Policy, National Corn Growers Association

About AGree
AGree is designed to tackle long-term food and agriculture issues. AGree is a collaborative initiative of nine of the world’s leading foundations, including the Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Walton Family Foundation, and will be a major force for comprehensive and lasting change. The initiative seeks to drive positive change in the food and agriculture system by connecting and challenging leaders from diverse communities to elevate food and agriculture policy as a national policy priority. AGree also recognizes the interconnected nature of agriculture policy globally and seeks to break down barriers and work across issue areas.

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