Last Friday Pat Hill from DTN blogged about this year’s USDA Agriculture Outlook Forum, an annual event since 1923 that is meant to provide farmers and ranchers, government, and agribusinesses with sound information for decision-making. This year, the theme for the forum was “Sustainable Agriculture: the Key to Health and Prosperity.”
Pat Hill reported on the panel “Sustainability, Stakeholders and Customers: Achieving a Healthier 21st Century.” The panel featured speakers with very different backgrounds, from Dr. Nina Fedoroff, science and technology advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, to Richard Schniedres, retired CEO of Sysco Corp, and Walter Robb, CEO of Whole Foods. Dr. Fedoroff discussed the potential effects a changing climate will have on agriculture and food supply, and stressed the need for crops that can withstand a lack of water or increased salinity. According to Dr. Fedoroff, these steps will promote sustainable agriculture and feed the world.
Walter Robb came in with a different perspective, arguing that the popularity of his store Whole Foods, known for its commitment to organic foods, signals a “food revolution.” According to Robb, his customers want labeling on GM food and equate sustainability with organic foods.
Roger Beachy keynoted the forum, and used his role to emphasize that the future of agriculture needs a unified approach that draws on many different methods to achieve sustainability.