The American Farm Bureau released an informal survey of young American farmers and ranchers (18-35 years old) that shares information about young farmers’ attitudes towards the future of farming. Despite challenges such as the economy, 80 percent of young farmers surveyed say they are more optimistic than they were five years ago, and 96 percent of the respondents say they expect to be life-long farmers or ranchers.
The survey also asked about biotech crop use, and more than half of the young farmers (57 percent) intend to plant biotech crops this year, signaling that young farmers are in favor of agricultural biotechnology. These farmers and ranchers are also concerned about their carbon footprint, and 68 percent of those surveyed say that “balancing environmental and economic concerns is important for their operations.”
Young farmers are also overwhelmingly online, with nearly 99 percent saying they have access to and use the internet. Furthermore, young farmers actively participate in social media- nearly 75 percent of young farmers are members of Facebook, and 10 percent are on Twitter. Twelve percent of these farmers and ranchers said they post YouTube videos.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s remarks at this year’s Agriculture Outlook Conference discussed the approach of the USDA under his leadership. He is committed to propping up rural America and supporting American farmers so they can grow more crops in a healthy, sustainable manner. Sec. Vilsack, a supporter of ag biotech, also discussed the role agricultural biotechnology should play in our future. Below are some quotes from Sec. Vilsack’s speech about ag biotech.
Sec. Vilsack shares the benefits of agricultural biotechnology and why his agency supports an approach that includes the technology:
“Our new trade strategy also has to focus on biotechnology and developing a way in which we can do a better job of using that science, a better understanding of the environmental benefits that could occur from biotechnology — less pesticides and less chemicals, less damage to the environment, greater productivity at a time when the world’s population continues to expand and the available land for productivity shrinks because cities are expanding.”
Sec. Vilsack also talks about biofuels and agriculture’s potential in leading America towards a better and safer energy future.
“There is an enormous opportunity for this country in the area of energy. I have seen it in my home state of Iowa. It can be replicated across the country, which is why we have put a lot of time and effort into developing the biofuels task force report for the president, a discussion of how we might be able to use agriculture’s power, either in terms of production of crops or production of crop residue, or production of forest and biomass, that can create new opportunities for this country to make us far less dependent than we are today on foreign energy sources. It is time for America to take back its energy destiny. It can do this through the farmers and ranchers and rural communities of this country. Every sector of our nation, every geographic area of our nation, can contribute to this.”
You can read Sec. Vilsack’s full remarks here. You can watch the video of his speech here.
Joel Kotkin of Forbes Magazine discusses the troubling “assault on mainstream farmers” that is slowly manifesting itself in policies that result in “cutoffs on water…and a growing movement to ban the use of genetic engineering in crops” at a time when the world population is multiplying rapidly. He reminds his readers that agriculture’s impact extends further than many assume, and a threat to mainstream agriculture and scientifically run farms will hurt the U.S. economy by adversely affecting growth in other sectors, including food processing, marketing, shipping and supermarkets.
According to Mr. Kotkin, a realist approach must guide our food policy because “scientifically advanced farming still produces the majority of the average family’s foodstuffs, as well as the bulk of our exports,” whereas “organic foods and beverages account for less than 3% of all food sales in the U.S.” He believes that this approach will help us feed the world while growing our economy and saving American jobs.
You can read Joel Kotkin’s entire piece here.
Experts at the Modern Biotechnology in Indian Agriculture press conference this week expressed the importance of agricultural biotechnology to India’s food security, pointing out that “agricultural biotechnology would modernise agriculture, increase crop yield, enhance the livelihood of farmers and make food affordable.”
“People in developing countries spend 50 to 80 percent of their income on food and depend on agriculture for their living. So lower food prices are critical. However, there are still many opposing agricultural biotechnology, which is proven to give higher yield and is safe for humans, animal, and environment,” said C. Kameswara Rao of the Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education (FBAE) in Bangalore.
You can read the entire article here.
Following the recommendation of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the Indian Government is taking further steps to approve the commercial use of BT Eggplant. The Journal reports that land area under food cultivation has shrunk from 73.8% in 1951 to around 60% in 2007.
“We have to use technology which does not demand more water or more land,” said D.H Pai Panandikar, an economist and chairman of the Indian arm of the Washington-based International Life Sciences Institute.
“I believe technology advancement has to take place and farmers should be given the advantage of new technology,” said Vibha Dhawan, executive director of The Energy Resources Institute (TERI).
The entire article can be read here. Please share your thoughts in our comments section.