Friday, March 18, 2011

Feeding the Future Through Modern Agriculture: Communicating the Benefits of Today’s Food Supply

Submitted by Kerry Phillips, RD, International Food Information Council

If you’re a member of the food supply chain, chances are you've heard this statistic from the United Nations(UN):

“Food production must double by 2050 to meet the demand of the world’s growing population.”

Not only will food production need to double, but the increase in food output will have to come from the same land currently being farmed. And, as the UN points out, “70 percent of this additional food must come from the use of new and existing agriculture technologies.”

Whether you are a farmer, processor or manufacturer, this statistic may mean something different to you, but above all, it’s a call to action--Are we doing our part to communicate the benefits that modern agriculture provides in meeting the world’s food needs today and tomorrow? This is no easy challenge. While consumers tend to be very receptive when it comes to the latest electronic and mobile technologies, technologies applied to food are often viewed less favorably. However, research conducted by the International Food Information Council shows that consumers are most interested in benefits of food technology that apply directly to them and their families, such as improved nutrition, safety and taste. These consumer insights can help members of the food system to engage in conversation with the public and share how advancements in agriculture can offer these benefits.   

Stakeholders are currently working together to get the word out about the benefits of modern agriculture. Efforts to address misperceptions about specific aspects of food production, processing and technology are now being augmented by a new umbrella network, the Alliance to Feed the Future. The Alliance is comprised of 43 member organizations (and counting!), including scientific societies, universities, and industry and commodity groups. The Alliance’s mission is to multiply the impact of messages that build understanding of food production and technology issues to balance the public dialogue on modern agriculture and large-scale food production. To learn more about the Alliance to Feed the Future, visit

Monday, March 14, 2011

Working to Preserve More of What Farmers Grow

Submitted by Mike Baroni, Vice President, ADM

With a global population that is expected to reach more than 9 billion people by 2050, it’s clear the world is going to need more food and energy. Like many others in the agricultural industry, Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) believes that agriculture can, and must, grow sustainably to meet these vital needs.

By making sure that crops are collected and processed efficiently and by employing innovation to make the most of every kernel, grain and bean we touch, ADM helps maximize the global harvest to meet the needs of our growing world.

Another way we are helping to make the most of the global harvest is through the recently announced ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss. ADM established this research center at the University of Illinois to help smallholder farmers in the developing world advance practical strategies to combat postharvest loss.

Taken together, our efforts may, over time, enable farmers in the developing world to improve their productivity, use more of what they grow, connect to global markets and improve their livelihoods. And at the same time, adding their increased output to global grain and oilseeds stocks could help the rest of the world meet its growing food and energy needs using land already in production, while making conscientious use of natural resources and protecting our environment.

After all, the most sustainable, environmentally responsible grain of all is the grain we don’t waste.

To learn more about ADM’s efforts to reduce postharvest loss, visit

National Ag Day 2011 Student Training

Photo's from the Student Training for National Ag Day in DC are now available on Flickr at

Time For National Ag Day

As we enter ag week let's look at the schedule for National Ag Day in the nation's Capitol.

Things will start off with an Agriculture Appreciation Reception hosted by Agri-Pulse this evening that features musical artist Michael Peterson. Then tomorrow morning we'll have the National Ag Day Coffee followed by the National Ag Day Mix-and-Mingle Luncheon. At the luncheon we'll have approximately 100 student delegates from FFA, 4-H, AFA and The Consortium in attendance, along with Outstanding Farmer of the Year honorees. Finally we'll have the National Celebration of Agriculture Dinner, hosted by the Agriculture Council of America.

It's going to be a great day of celebration for American Agriculture. If you're tweeting or just want to follow the Twitter stream then use the hash tag, #natlagday.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Young People Preparing for a Career in Agriculture

Submitted by Elizabeth Burns-Thompson, Council for Agricultural Science & Technology

Yep, that would be me, along with the other 29,299 students expected to graduate this year from a U.S. College of Agriculture. Sitting here thinking about the future, I notice a small paper hanging next to my desk at work. It bears the USDA emblem and 5 simple words, “Never Let Your Dreams Falter.” I look at it and think back to what it took to get me here today.

It was mid-December, and the end of my first semester at Iowa State University. Just a few days prior I had responded to a posting on the college job board, and so here I was, walking to my interview. Google Maps told me it was just a measly seven-minute drive, a walkable distance I thought, especially for someone unfamiliar with the CyRide bus system. After covering two hills, five blocks, and nearly the entire ISU campus, I began to think I was set-up. It took me nearly an hour to cover that 3.1 miles in the dead of winter, but I made it, and got the job. On that first day at CAST (Council for Agricultural Science & Technology), I hung up a small symbol that reminds me still today to focus on the road ahead, and never let my dreams falter.

My advice for students is to stay informed. You can’t “talk the talk” or “walk the walk” if you’re out of the loop. I encourage students to embrace social media and utilize their Facebook and/or Twitter to follow industry-wide news, and gain a voice by engaging in these thought-provoking discussions. As agriculturalists, it is critical that we are able to see both sides of an issue and distinguish fact from fiction. Knowing where to find credible information is key. Take the opportunity to join a professional organization, network with industry leaders and find unique internships. These sorts of experiences will help catapult you to the career you’ve always dreamed of.