A Food Fight

When people ask me to gauge how a particular industry event went, I usually explain it to them this way: If I learned something new, it was a success.

Given this criteria, the 2nd annual National Policy Conference was a rousing success. Hosted last week in Washington, DC, by CropLife America, the meeting brought together agricultural friends and foes to discuss such wide ranging topics as can consumers and growers coexist, taking a product from lab to the field and how federal policy is shaping American agriculture. There was also a discussion with Robert Kenner, the director of the agricultural exposé Food, Inc.

Yet, for me, the most interesting panel discussion of the conference was the one entitled “Modern Agriculture: What’s Next & Why?” Now I’ve heard over and over the past 11 years how agriculture will have to figure out ways to produce enough food to feed a projected nine billion world population by the mid-21st century. But even I hadn’t appreciated just how difficult a task this might be until Sonny Ramaswamy, dean of the College of Agricultural Services and director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station for Oregon State University, explained it at the conference.

“Some studies have found that you would need two Earths to feed this expected population using today’s agricultural methods, where half the food is lost before it ever gets to the table,” said Ramaswamy. “If you want to live like an American, you are going to need four Earths.”

Ramaswamy went on to say that the American diet needs to change going forward as well. “Since the 1960s, we’ve focused on cheap calories in this country,” he said. “But there’s a disconnect there. We need to develop food with more nutrition, enhancing the good traits in crops and vegetables.”

Dr. Jason Clay, senior vice president of market transformation for the World Wildlife Fund, agreed, pointing to genetics as a way to accomplish this goal. “Genetics is what got us here today,” said Clay of modern agriculture’s yield track record. “But we also need to increase work on genetics, not necessarily for corn, soybeans and what, but fruits and nuts as well.”

Going forward, Clay believes agricultural practices will need to alter somewhat, perhaps marrying the concepts of commercial farming with those of organic, with precision agriculture serving as a kind of bridge between the two. Otherwise, he warns, the ever-growing world population will take whatever steps are necessary to survive, with nature suffering in the process.

“The bottom line is that people are going to feed their kids,” said Clay. “If people have to pick between their kids and trees, trees are going to lose.”

If you ask me, this gives the entire industry plenty of food for thought as we move ever closer to 2050.

Leave a Reply

Eric Sfiligoj Stories

NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
Cedar Country Cooperative
Eric SfiligojConsolidation In Agriculture: More Middle Movement
February 7, 2017
If you’ve regularly followed my column, you know I’m something of a movie junkie. Like many, one of my favorite Read More
Engenia soybeans
Eric SfiligojJust ‘Okay’ Isn’t Good Enough With Dicamba Cropping Systems
February 6, 2017
Thus far, crop protection product experts have a very simple message for custom applicators who plan to use the new Read More
Eric SfiligojNo Alternative Facts: Dicamba Cropping System Applicators Must Be Careful
January 23, 2017
During President Donald Trump’s inauguration, much fuss was made over the use of the term “alternative facts” vs. some of Read More
Trending Articles
Farmer and aptop
Matt Hopkins10 Warning Signs Your Website Is Grossly Outdated
February 8, 2017
Your Website is often a visitor’s first impression of your ag retail business. A positive first impression can set the Read More
AgriSync
Matt Hopkins17 Agriculture Apps That Will Help You Farm Smarter In 2017
December 9, 2016
Ag professionals are working smarter, not harder, than ever before. Smart farming technologies have enabled them to reduce costs, maximize Read More
R4023 Sprayer, John Deere
CropLife 100Ag Retail Equipment Report: The Green Party Continues
December 7, 2016
In the annual race for sales in the ag retail equipment marketplace, the color schemes for participants are a little Read More
Mike Stern
Precision AgClimate Corp. CEO Talks Retailer Support For Digital Ag
December 1, 2016
CropLife Magazine’s sister publication, AgriBusiness Global, recently sat down with Mike Stern, CEO of The Climate Corp., following the Monsanto subsidiary’s Read More
Precision AgTrimble Debuts End-to-End FMIS Platform
November 28, 2016
October’s inaugural PrecisionAg Vision Conference left this author with many thoughts and things to ponder in the coming months. Probably Read More
CHS Primeland
CropLife 100The 2016 CropLife 100 Report: Reviewing The Many Bulls And Bears Impacting This Year’s Marketplace
November 28, 2016
For virtually all of 2016, the nation was wholly focused on the big Presidential election. Some folks aligned themselves with Read More
Latest News
Greenleaf Technologies TADF03-D Dual Fan Nozzle
NozzlesSix Greenleaf Nozzles Approved For XtendiMax With Vapor…
February 22, 2017
Greenleaf Technologies has announced that six of its TurboDrop D Series nozzles have been approved for use with Monsanto’s XtendiMax Read More
Winter Wheat
Industry NewsTiger-Sul Hires Manitoba And Eastern Canada Account Man…
February 22, 2017
Tiger-Sul, a global leader in sulphur fertilizers and crop performance products, has announced that sales veteran Trevor Loewen has joined Read More
NFMS 17 Hagie Sprayer
Eric SfiligojThe Read From Louisville: Uncertain
February 22, 2017
By the time this column appears across the country, the annual Commodity Classic will be in full swing. This means Read More
SprayersApache 1000 Series Sprayer Earns 2017 EquipmentWatch Hi…
February 21, 2017
ET Works has been named a winner in the 2017 EquipmentWatch Highest Retained Value Awards program, the industry’s only award Read More
Measuring Bulk Tanks
StewardshipMeister Media Among 2017 Award Winners Presented By The…
February 21, 2017
The Pesticide Stewardship Alliance (TPSA) held its annual conference in San Diego, CA, earlier this month where three awards were Read More
John Reifsteck
CropLife 100GROWMARK’s Reifsteck Earns NCFC Director Of The Y…
February 21, 2017
GROWMARK Chairman of the Board and President John Reifsteck has earned the prestigious Director of the Year Award from the Read More
Roy Blunt
LegislationARA Recognizes Blunt, Heitkamp For Legislative Efforts …
February 17, 2017
Agricultural industry continues to face federal regulatory challenges. Thankfully, agriculture’s allies in the U.S. Senate stepped forward. The Agricultural Retailers Read More
LegislationThe Fertilizer Institute Commends Senate On Confirmatio…
February 17, 2017
The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) President Chris Jahn issued the following statement on the Senate confirmation of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Read More
Trump, Senate, Cabinet
LegislationBREAKING: Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Confirmed by S…
February 17, 2017
Scott Pruitt, who as Oklahoma’s attorney general spent years suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its efforts to regulate various Read More
ManagementFebruary Road Trip Edition
February 17, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj discuss their recent visits to Indiana and Kentucky. Read More
Heritage Cooperative Finished Building Aerial
ManagementHeritage Cooperative, Agland Co-op Approve Merger
February 17, 2017
Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative stockholders have both approved the merger agreement between Agland Co-op and Heritage Cooperative. Now begins Read More
LegislationARA Fly-In: Ag Retail Descends on Capitol Hill, Lawmake…
February 15, 2017
More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in, according to a Read More
Untreated soybean seed Heartland Coop
Seed/BiotechMarrone Bio Innovations, Groundwork BioAg Bio-stacked M…
February 13, 2017
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. and Groundwork BioAg, Ltd have announced successful seed treatment field trials of the world’s first all-biological Read More
NL5000 With G5 Technology
SpreadersNew Leader Introduces NL5000 Dry Nutrient Applicator Wi…
February 13, 2017
New Leader, a division of Highway Equipment Company (HECO), has announced the next generation of spreading technology with the NL5000 Read More
Fertilizer Storage
Crop InputsThe State Of The Fertilizer Industry
February 9, 2017
He’s all hat, no horse.” It’s a humorous way of describing a person who tells a good story, but is Read More
CropLife 100Pinnacle Agriculture Agrees To Credit Agreement Amendme…
February 9, 2017
Pinnacle Operating Corp. has entered into an amendment (the “Amendment”) to its First Lien Credit Agreement that will provide for, Read More
ManagementUpdates on Upcoming Trips, Dow-DuPont, and the Des Moin…
February 9, 2017
Editors Paul Schrimpf and Eric Sfiligoj review a few future travels, along with the latest on big company mergers and Read More
Championship Tractor Pull
EquipmentNational Farm Machinery Show Highlighted By Championshi…
February 9, 2017
The scream of monster engines, the stench of burning rubber and the ground-pounding vibrations of the country’s largest, loudest and Read More