Farm Food Facts

What's on the Mind of Agriculture's Future Leaders

November 09, 2020 USFRA Episode 97
Farm Food Facts
What's on the Mind of Agriculture's Future Leaders
Show Notes Transcript

Today it’s all about our future – our future leaders that is. With us is Alwin Hopf who is working on his masters and PhD in Agriculture and Biological Engineering at the University of Florida and Alice Mei-Wong Dien a masters student at the university of California at Davis and was our YAS 2021 Ag-vocacy winner from the 2019 Honor the Harvest Forum.

Phil:

US Farmers and Ranchers in action would like to recognize the sponsors of the 2020 Honor the Harvest forum. Welcome to the USFRA webcast , Farm Food Facts for Wednesday, November 11th, 2020. Today, it's all about our future. Our future leaders that is. With us is Alwin Hopf, who is working on his master's and PhD in agriculture and biological engineering at the university of Florida and Alice Dien, a master's student at the university of California at Davis, and was our YAS 2021 Ag-vocacy winner from the 2019 Honor the Harvest. It's truly an international , uh , edition, if you would. Alice tell us where you are.

Alice:

So I'm currently in France, Phil , I mean to lose in the South of France

Phil:

And Alwin?

Alwin:

Yeah, I'm doing from Gainesville, Florida. Okay. And to both of you welcome to farm food facts. Um, let me start with you, Alice , how was your experience attending the 2020 honor the harvest forum ?

Alice:

It was a really good experience. Um, I didn't expect to have such a diverse , uh, pool of people joining that conversation. It was my first time being invited to the event and I think I really had insightful and interesting conversation. It was a little bit challenging to have everything over zoom, but it turned out to work really well. And I think I was amazed by, by all the people I met during the summit.

Phil:

If you had one takeaway , uh , from the summit , um, that that was a standout that you never expected , um , to find, what would that be?

Alice:

I think it would be commitment. Like I didn't expect , um , people to be so committed. Like I've been to summit and, and other events like this one before, but I could see that these events started in 2019 and, and people have been working , um, about what they, the commitments they had in 2019. They've been working on them for this entire year. And we could really see that in 2020, and we have another event coming up, like following up on the one we had a couple of months ago. So it's really like all about commitment and like, not only having the conversations, but actually following up and taking action on what's been saved during the summit.

Phil:

So, Alwin, how was your experience and what was your key takeaway?

Alwin:

Um , somewhat similar. I mean, first of all of us kind of a big surprise to get the email list to invitation , um, because I've been to similar events before, but it was more focused on youth, but all other participants were youth. And this was kind of for me, the first event where you really had people from all kinds of , uh , like different positions, different areas of work, different age groups. So just kind of looking through the list of participants was already quite interesting. And I got very excited and yeah, I agree with Alice . Um , it was new by new format on zoom , um, for me the first online conference, so that something to get used to, but I think they managed it really well with like the different breakout groups and the structure . So there was , uh , just a great experience overall. And I think my, my key takeaway was really just collaboration across the whole value chain that it wasn't just researchers talking. It wasn't just industry talking, but everyone was involved, policymakers , farmers. And , um, so what's even more surprising and I think also like an achievement to arrive at one goal at the end.

Phil:

So let me just pick up on what you talked about , um, as far as having younger generations in the food and in the ag space, how important is it , uh , for you personally? Um , you've both alluded to it , um, as well as for our industry to have your voice at honor of the harvest. Now Alwin, you get started with that.

Alwin:

So I think it's very crucial. Um, it's kind of key to success because , um, we are the up and coming generation , um, many challenges facing into the future, but also many opportunities. So I think the earlier we have an opportunity to get involved the better for not just for us, but kind of for everyone. And , um , I think we have many new and maybe some things in our unconventional ideas and if we can kind of connect to like more or less like established people with more connections and maybe more influence , um, and maybe also more experience , um , I think just a very beautiful kind of combination for both sides.

Phil:

So Alice, if you could , um , have the entire audience from honor the harvest , um , on a zoom call and you've gone through the experience, what would you like to say to all these hundreds of people?

Alice:

Yeah , so I would like to say that , um, I think, I think we need to change the way we're defining agriculture currently, and I know those people are aware of that, but I think we're doing a very good job on trying to , um, define what agriculture should be like in the U S for the next year is like the next 30 years are crucial. And, and until now I think I recall her was mainly focused on like feeding people, which is still important, right. But now we have new new input into the conversation, like , uh , climate change and environment, and we really need to , um, insert two stoppings into the, into the conversations about agriculture. And I think that they are becoming as important as feeding the world. So it's really like, just keep, keep having these type of conversations. Let's keep moving forward and , and finding the best pot for us to move agriculture forward.

Phil:

So, Alwin , um, you know, and, and for both of you, you know, you're, you're in this for the longterm , this is your career, this is what you're studying. Uh, what do you say to, to American , uh, youth who might be considering food and ag sector, or might not be considering it as a viable career path? Alice?

Alice:

So , um, I would say like, look at what other people are doing and really think about agriculture as this interdisciplinary thing. Like, I think one of the main problems , um, with youth today is that when we say agriculture day's trade theme , like, Oh, farming, like, yeah, you can be a farmer, which is really nice, but there's so many other things you can do within agriculture. Like it doesn't have to be farming, you can be in , I'm an engineer and I work in agriculture, you see? So like really like keeping all options open and not thinking it's just this one thing and you don't want to do that. Like we need to change. We need to make agriculture culture more attractive because it is very interesting and it's very important. And I think w when right now, maybe not doing a good job at saying that tour to our young people.

Phil:

So how do we, how do we do a better job? What's the languaging that we need to have. Um, so Alice, you meet me on the street. Um , you tell me what you do and , um , I'm heading off to college and, you know, give me the elevator pitch of why I should get involved in agriculture. When I'm thinking about, you know, getting into advertising, for example, Alwin , what , what are your thoughts? What would you tell somebody who's thinking about agriculture as a career, but thinking about other things as well, and, you know, what's, what's your sales pitch? Why should they get involved in agriculture?

Alwin:

Yeah, so I think from my perspective, agriculture has kind of a very traditional image, which makes it very intriguing. Very it's like historic something that's as part of our history. Um, that's very good on the one side, but also not like super attractive, I would say as a young person, because you want to do new things and be more cutting edge. But I think what many people just don't know and what we can better communicate is that agriculture is cutting edge and so many disciplines. And so example for the sales pitch, that if you want to do marketing, but you also to do agriculture, I would just say, you can do both , um, just combine it, you can do agriculture marketing and not just because you can, but I think because we , we need it , like we need to have the best marketing people also work in agriculture because we have very important messages to communicate. And , um , so it's like kind of a pressing challenge to be better to communicate that. And it's a field that kind of involves us all in science, even if we are not farmers, even if you're not directly working in agriculture, it's just so connected. Um, our everyday life, like, I mean, it's the source of , uh, fiber fuel energy, everything. So if you're kind of trying to decide between agriculture or some other thing, just do both and try to combine it.

Phil:

So when, when you look at around , um, at your peers , uh, both at university , um, and not in university , um, what are you seeing these people doing in S agriculture as it relates to climate solutions? We talk a lot about , uh, climate change, climate solutions , um, the , the Paris accord , uh , what are you seeing , um, are young leaders , uh, doing , um, as it relates to climate solutions?

Alice:

Yes . So in the university, for example , um, a lot of people are doing research into switching , um, energy, like the type of energy we use. For example, I specialize in drying and to dry agricultural commodities, we use a lot of fossil fuels. We use propane methane, and we're trying to see like, can we use , um , solar energy, for example, can we change the way we're doing these, but keep the quality of the crops and, and keep the same productivity and, and how would that even like help the farmers? So that's what I'm seeing, like in a research level, there's, there's a lot of effort being done on that area , um, in the farming , um, it's, it's quite different because , um, most of the time young people that are , that are farmers actually , um , are picking the farm from their families . So like switching ways , uh , things are , have been done for so many years. It's , it's challenging, it's hard, but what we're seeing, like, especially in the U S a young movement of, of people , uh , fighting for sustainable agriculture and sustainable practices. And that's very important. Like we need that kind of action because that's how, how we create change. And , and that's how we can make that change happen even in a policy level. So I think young people have a very important role in that side, and, and yes, we're seeing lots of people taking initiative.

Phil:

And Alwin, what are you seeing that's being done for climate solutions?

Alwin:

I mean, one, one very important thing. I think right now, what I see among my peers is definitely kind of adoption and first place. I mean, because it's already is a telling, like depending where you are in the country, on the world, and you need to have some solutions right now, how to be better deal with drought or increased temperature in the summer, things like this, but that's kind of the foundation, I would say, but equally important, what I see as many people looking like way ahead into the future finding solutions to offset carbon, for example, to find more sustainable ways of producing the fiber and fuel we need. And so it's a good mixture, but people are definitely in it for the long run it like, and we have as long vision among the young people.

Phil:

Well, I want to thank Both of you for joining us today on Farm Food Facts, and clearly With leadership , uh , such as both of you , uh , we're , we're going to be in a good place. So thanks for joining us.

Alice:

Thank you for having us.

Alwin:

Thank you.

Phil:

US Farmers and Ranchers in action would like to recognize the sponsors of the 2020 honor the harvest forum. Our movement sponsors, United soybean board and national pork board. Our presenting sponsors, Wells Fargo, Cargil and DMI. Our Platinum Sponsor the Native American Agriculture Fund. Our Gold sponsors, Bader-Rutter, Bayer, Corteva, Dairy West, Edelman, Ernst & Young, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, frog, McDonald's, Nebraska Soybean Board, and Nutrien. Our Silver Sponsors Cobank and OCP North America. Our bronze sponsor, Nestle Purina. Our Copper Sponsor, Ruan. And our donor sponsor, Tyson. For more on all things, food and agriculture. Please visit @usfarmersandranchers.org. Also be sure to look out for us on Facebook at us farmers and ranchers and on Twitter at USFRA until next time.