CropLife America President and CEO Jay Vroom spoke to attendees of the Michigan Agri-Business Association’s (MABA) Outlook Conference in Mackinac Island, MI, recently about the role that the crop protection industry plays in meeting rising food demands and the regulatory challenges that stand to impact growers. Vroom praised MABA’s high level of state grassroots activity, and urged the conference attendees to become advocates of modern agriculture in their own communities to strengthen the ties between rural America, consumers and policymakers.
“While the United Nations has predicted that we must double food production by the year 2050 to feed a population that will reach 9 billion, there is little discussion of how modern agriculture is part of the solution,” Vroom said. “Crop protection products and other innovative practices serve as a means for growers to increase yields for a growing global population while decreasing the amount of land devoted to farming, and conserving water and fuel. This lack of dialogue has led to a rift in the public’s understanding of what U.S. farmers do, and ultimately impacts policy all the way to Capitol Hill.”
Vroom encouraged the agricultural community to engage in outreach to the broader public and help share the story and achievements of modern U.S. agriculture. A number of organizations and coalition efforts are starting this work, including Alliance to Feed the Future, Farmers Feeding the World, America’s Heartland and the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA). USFRA, a recently formed alliance of prominent farmer-and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners, is launching The Food Dialogues, a town hall-style event that will bring together differing viewpoints on farming, ranching and the future of food to help formulate solutions that will bring the nation closer to reaching food security. All of these organizations are working to create an opportunity to share the accomplishments of U.S. agriculture and forge an improved connection between consumers and growers.
Vroom also noted that active state associations such as MABA help to increase the visibility of agriculture’s needs in both state and federal capitals. This activity is vital in garnering federal support on issues such as National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting, the Endangered Species Act and spray drift policy. Vroom specifically highlighted a call for grassroots action in support of H.R. 872, Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2011, a bill that currently sits in the U.S. Senate that will amend the erroneous courtroom ruling requiring growers to acquire redundant NPDES permits for certain pesticide applications over, to or near bodies of water. Spray drift policy and industry stewardship also need consistent focus and active support at every level of the agricultural industry.