Farm Food Facts

Introducing a Decade of Ag

March 23, 2021 USFRA Episode 104
Farm Food Facts
Introducing a Decade of Ag
Chapters
Farm Food Facts
Introducing a Decade of Ag
Mar 23, 2021 Episode 104
USFRA

National Ag Day is a day that recognizes and celebrates the abundance provided by American agriculture. With us today to introduce the Decade of Ag are three of our vitally important leaders, as well as current and past USFRA board chairs Anne Meis, Chip Bowling and Brad Greenway.

Show Notes Transcript

National Ag Day is a day that recognizes and celebrates the abundance provided by American agriculture. With us today to introduce the Decade of Ag are three of our vitally important leaders, as well as current and past USFRA board chairs Anne Meis, Chip Bowling and Brad Greenway.

Phil:

Welcome to Farm Food Facts for Wednesday, March 24th, 2021. I'm your host, Phil Lempert. National Ag Day is a day that recognizes and celebrates the abundance provided by American agriculture. It's the perfect occasion to celebrate the 30 plus food and Ag CEOs and 100 plus other leaders, farmers and experts who have signed onto the movement. We've come a long way since our convening in a certain farmer , uh , place in Maryland during our 2019 honor of the harvest forum, where over a hundred attendees met to co-create the future of sustainable agriculture since then countless meetings, working groups, as well as an oversight from the advisory committee and personal interactions with literally hundreds of individuals and our 2020 honor of the harvest forum are all contributing to the momentum that we're feeling now with us today to introduce the decade of ag are three of our vitally important leaders, as well as current and past USF RA board chairs Anne Meis, Chip Bowling and Brad Greenway. Thank you all for joining today's episode.

Chip:

Thank you .

Brad:

Thank you.

Anne:

Happy To be here.

:

And, and it was, it was , it was on Chip's farm that we all got together. Um, and you know, we always laugh about how hot it was in Maryland , uh , those couple of days that we were there. Um, but again, Chip, thank you for hosting it. And it was a wonderful event and a great kickoff to the decade of ag. Yes, it was. Um, you know, we were proud to be able to host that meeting , uh , at our farm back in 2019. Uh, we were pleasantly surprised at getting almost a hundred people involved in it. And then this year when we had the virtual honor , the harvest meeting and , uh, we had almost 200, so we're , we were proud to start to kick off something like the decade of ag and shore and proud to still be part of it. Absolutely. Anne let me, let me start with you. And why did you decide to endorse the vision?

Anne:

Well, I believe that it's through collaboration that we can bring this strength that we desire. I've heard for years in agriculture, that we should speak with this United message. Well, here it is. This vision has been formed and crafted by top leaders in ag and food to be a vision that we can all share. It's meant to be noncontroversial . The decade of bag is intentionally designed to be broad and give us all this vision that we can aspire to.

Phil:

So, Brad, I know you were in the same meetings that I were aware , you know, we had , uh, you know, 20, 30 people really wordsmithing this to make sure that every word was perfect, that we came out as Anne said with a United approach to it. Um, how do you feel about where we got to,

Brad:

You know, and I think you hit on it is , you know, that vision and it did, it took a lot of time and a lot of , uh , coming down to just a simple word, we want it to be as inclusive of not only all of agriculture, but everybody across the food chain. And so, you know, when you start bringing some words in about resilient and economically feasible and all those things, it has different meaning to each group. And so honestly, just having all different aspects of the food chain around the table when we discussed this vision about the decade was very important because again, bringing everybody at the table was just a good experience and words do matter when they're put together in a vision statement

Phil:

Absolutely And Chip, as you pointed out, everything started on your farm. Um , how are you feeling now that we've got the vision that we're kicking off the decade of, of ag , um, and what do you see as the vision for us next?

Chip:

So I feel really good about it, obviously because the three of us are we , we signed onto the decade of ag . So who couldn't be excited about restoring our environment through agriculture, who couldn't be excited about regenerating our natural resources of what we do everyday on our farm. Um, why wouldn't you want to revitalize the collective appreciation for agriculture? Um, all three of us have been farming our whole life , uh , our , our kinfolk barn before us. And I'm excited about what I do every day. I enjoy my job. Uh, I was taught to respect the soil and the land and the water quality. So for me, it's a no brainer to sign onto the decade of ag because we're going to be here for decades, not just another decade.

Phil:

So, and this question for all three of you , um, during the pandemic , uh, the average consumer who really never thought about where their food came from , um, have, have seen , uh , more transparency than ever before. Uh, what we're seeing is farmers and ranchers have been the unsung heroes. Uh , they've been, you , you guys have been written about in newspapers, on, on TV about just how important farmers and ranchers are. Um, so that's great. We have the consumers now behind us understanding what are farmers and ranchers doing , uh , about climate change , uh, before this , uh, what we've been hearing a lot about is getting food to the shelves of the supermarkets. Now we have to go further and really talk about climate change mitigation, talk about sustainability efforts , uh, Brad, you know what what's going on?

Brad:

You know, it is, I, you know, when you start about climate change and what farmers have been doing in the past. And again, I, I look back and then in my situation, my dad is still on the farm and he's, you know, he's 84 years old. And so the things that we've changed and I witnessed, and now my son is back. So we actually got three generations kind of interesting topics around the table. But when you start talking about that, what is, what has happened, what technology has changed, what we're using in practices today on my farm. And I don't care if it's with a crops or cattle or pigs, everything we try to do, you try to do better than what we did yesterday. And so all those things, you know, from our no-till practices on the crops to , uh, you know, taking care of our livestock, exactly so that they're comfortable so that we use less feed all of those things need to be looked at and tweaked. And I think, you know, when you talk about climate change and what, there's no, there's no doubt in my mind as a farmer, what we've seen over the years that we're seeing changes, what can we do as farmers to help mitigate that change and continue to improve on what we're doing each day and again, between the technology , uh , just, and honestly, this meeting that we had out in ships and have that collaboration gives me as a farmer meeting with other people, you know, in different aspects of the food chain, their vision, what they're looking at, it's , it's , it's a good experience for us as farmers to talk to the people and get their perspective on that. And so we can learn, and hopefully we can share that conversation between all aspects of the food chain. So again, continue to improve on what we're doing each day and be open to change, because it definitely is changing on the farm.

Phil:

Anne, what are some of the top issues that agriculture and food need to address right now today?

Anne:

Well, I certainly would agree with everything. Brad said that , uh, you know, farmers want sustainability. We want healthy soil. We want to use the best practices. And we know our land and livestock through years and years in generational knowledge. I think some of the top issues is that , um, we need rural broadband access out here so we can operate our GPS technology and collect that valuable data. That's going to get us to those goals. Uh, the data that is collected needs to be usable and transferable. So we need research efforts that are focused on breakthroughs in science that allow agriculture to measure carbon capture so we can implement these best practices. And I really think that economics to sustainability is the number one issue on every farmer's mind. Um, you know, we're hearing about Brad in a three generational farm, you know, we hope to do that too and bring our son back. So we want to be economically feasible and have a future. Um, but with , and we want to implement these practices with the least environmental footprint. Um, but achieving these goals is costly. And right now a lot of it lands on the shoulders of farmer. So it's exciting to work along the food and value chain for these shared goals that we have. And that's what the Decade of Ag expresses.

Phil:

So chip , um, and , um, we started out by talking about collaboration that what's going on with USF RA efforts. Um , why is collaboration so important? Um, and what's, what's the scope of the collaboration? Should it just be among farmers , uh, or should it be expanded?

Chip:

No, a topic like this has to be expanded. You know, for years I've been going to DC on policy issues when it came to national corn growers and we would work with other commodity groups like pork and soybeans , uh, to make sure we had the same voice when we went to DC to talk about a topic. Well, this climate change issue is way bigger than all of that, in my opinion. And if we don't have collaboration with where it begins on the farm to the person, that processes is that the food at the plant where they're processing the food or the, or the protein , uh , when it comes to fuel, we have to talk about when we're fueling the world and helping with climate change. So collaboration now from the top, when it comes to the processors right down, and I hate to say to the bottom, but it begins with the farmer. Not that we're at the bottom, but we, we start that chain and we've got to make sure that all the links in that chain of working together and are strong as they can be. And with, you know, a new ministration right now, climate change is at the top of their priority list. And if we're not working together as a team and collaborating together, you know, there's a bunch of different voices telling them a lot of different things. And it's hard to bring that together when you're not unified.

Phil:

If we were all together, back in the barn, and there were a bunch of retailers and fuel people and just the, the entire supply chain as you're describing it , um, and you wanted to get them involved in the decade of ag, what would you tell them?

Chip:

So for me, I'd tell them , Hey, look out the, my barn door and see what I deal with every day, look at how we're farming and the way that we're doing it and how quite frankly, how good it looks, not just on my farm, but farms all across the country, look at what we're doing, how good we are at it, because we know we can produce, you know, a lot of product , uh, and we need to see how they do their job also. So if they were to come to my farm and see how I do it, maybe we need to go to their business or their production facility to see how they do it. And also, you know, don't make claims about climate change, that can't back up ,

Phil:

Um , make sure that when you come up with a goal for your company , uh , that the farmers can actually do that, go for you. Cause that's, this is where it starts is with us. Anne, and Brad, how often do you have, whether it be retailers or processors are doing exactly what chip said, where they're inviting you to their facilities, where they really want to have this interchange of information so that when they're putting together their specs , uh, for , for food , um, that you are involved, that you've got a voice in it versus just getting a piece of paper and say, Hey, Brad, do this.

Brad:

You know , it really isn't . I was going to say, prior to this last year, of course, with COVID has changed a lot of that, but, you know, and we've, we've had people, we've had one of the major retailers out here and ship brought up a very good point. I mean, we need, they need to see what we do each day, but we also need to understand, and , and where they're coming from. So it is that it's that conversation all the way up and down the food chain. And that's where USF, I mean, just, I think of that back in the barn and ships , some bring it all across the sector in there. It was a good learning experience for everybody there. And so right now, and I'll just give you an example where I sell some of my pigs, they're looking at , you know, we talk about sustainability and the risks as well. So a warm, fuzzy word. We literally, this year had to, from electricity to water, to mama feet , everything where I sell my pigs, they want to know how much carbon footprint I have per pound of pork. And so, again, it's coming, we need to embrace that. I think farmers welcome that, but they also need to be part of the conversation. And so it's going to continue on steel and it's going to be more important to all companies to work all across. And let's be, let's do this together. And I think that's the decade of a and the USFRA on what they're doing to bring everybody together , to have those conversations is the best story.

Phil:

So, and how does this Decade of Ag stand out ? Um, how does it show promise? How do we get people really excited about this?

Anne:

Well, it's an example of true collaboration. And remember that this was an effort brought dry drawn up by over 300 top CEO leaders and food and agriculture that designed and crafted this decade. So these leaders were carefully selected along that entire food chain. And this is the work of some of the best minds in the country. So it's time for agriculture to sign on to this commitment of decade of ag. So we can present this positive message to consumers and our buyers, and those who want a safe, healthy, sustainable food supply

Phil:

Very well said. Well, thank you all for joining us today on Farm Food Facts, keep the great work. Um, I signed up for decade of ag too . So , uh , we're all in this together.

Speaker 5:

Thanks so much.

Brad:

Thank you.

Chip:

Thank you Phil.

Phil:

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