By Isaac Hopkins
The Atlantic hosted an interview and panel discussion called “Feeding Future Generations,” which explored a wide-ranging set of solutions to the question “how do we sustainably continue to feed a growing global population?” The event was underwritten by the Beef Checkoff program and moderated by Corby Kummer, senior editor for The Atlantic.
Dan Glickman co-chair of Agree, and former Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, said that it’s up to Congress to “hurt the least fortunate people the least.” Panelist Tony Hall, director of The Alliance to End Hunger, former Representative of Ohio and US Ambassador to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), like Glickman, spoke about the responsibilities of governments, researchers, and farmers to ease our global food crisis. Hall pointed out that “we spend only one half of one percent of our budget on international aid,” but as Congress looks for programs to trim, both men anticipate cuts to humanitarian aid and development investment.
According to Glickman, some of the problems Americans face stem from out-dated agricultural policies, where “the way we subsidize agriculture is not necessarily compatible with what we tell people to eat.” Suzy Friedman, Deputy Director of Working Lands at the Environmental Defense Fund, stressed that our food system policies need to reflect changing technology and goals, and should be based on data-oriented research.
Any new policies designed to improve America’s food system must be built around ranchers and famers. “We are the original environmentalists,” said rancher Steve Foglesong, who owns Black Gold Ranch and Feedlot, because farmers care for the land where they live, work, and raise families. He called for farmers and ranchers to be given the freedom to maximize their production in order to combat hunger.
Issues of agriculture, governance, markets, and the environment are interwoven, requiring coordinated approaches to solve them, according to the panelists. Hall believes that we can accomplish this, but it will take collaboration that we so far failed to achieve, he said, rooted in strong leadership.
Who have you seen providing leadership on food security issues, locally, in government, or around the globe? Tell us in the comments!
Isaac Hopkins is a research intern with the Nourishing the Planet project
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