First, thanks to Farm Foundation, NFP for the opportunity to launch my blogging career with a discussion about some very important issues that fall under the umbrella of the future of agriculture and feeding the world's population by 2050.
My company, Sustainable Food Development, is an agricultural consumer food company that builds brands through the balanced integration of innovative scientific approaches with existing production systems. Measurable oversight, identification of corrective actions, and support and training help ensure continuous improvement and long-term sustainability of that operation.
Sustainability is the most important part of agriculture today. No decisions made on the farm, in food processing and distribution, or in the halls of politics can be made without considering the sustainable health of the world’s food supply. Decision makers at all levels need to have one objective in mind: feeding the world!
Given the intertwined nature of today's global agricultural systems, producers—whether distributing produce locally or internationally—have an impact on and a responsibility to the consumers served.
The evidence of this impact is omnipresent through worldwide drought, rising food demand, price volatility, and the infrastructure challenges to move, store and preserve the food supply.
The call to action has never been louder. In the United States challenges include how to handle climate change, water usage, crop production choices and myriad other elements integral to production and profitability. China’s multiple dilemmas include more than 300 million farmers who earn an average of $3,000 per year, an aging population, access to capital, and the disenfranchisement of consumers who producers are both trying to feed and prosper from.
The focus of discussion in China’s next 10-year plan is the potential displacement of tens of thousands of farmers in order to consolidate agricultural production. Consolidation will create larger production units that the Chinese believe can better use the most innovative technologies and help achieve the goal of increasing both volume and economic viability.
In the United States we continue to attract innovation and deploy some of the most progressive practices that science and technology have developed. We are challenged, however, by an increasing number of consumers seeking an ever-greater understanding of how their food is produced. We have developed one of the most sophisticated brand relationships for food production that the world has ever seen. We have long enjoyed the luxury of a consuming public that, until just recently, was loyal and trusting about food and food brands. Yet today, we are caught in a communications tug of war, which potentially can threaten the viability of our food supply.
In China, a newly awakened group of middle-class consumers—1 billion by 2030—feels empowered to question the safety of their food sources. This unusual open discussion has created a groundswell of regulations and new oversight implementations (2015 – 2016 food safety implementation deadlines), with the harshest punishment anyone can imagine. Many violators of these food-safety regulations are put to death.
Farm Foundation’s Dialogue Project is creating opportunities for all elements of the food system—producer to consumer—to end the communication tug of war and have constructive conversations about the future of our food system. Given what is at stake, we cannot pass up this opportunity. So let’s get started: What are your greatest concerns about the sustainability of our food and agricultural systems and how would you begin to address those concerns?