With farmers facing the challenge to double food production in the next 40 years to meet the needs of a growing world population, Alabama Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries John McMillan brought together about 100 elected officials and agribusiness leaders Nov. 29 in Birmingham for the “Feeding the World” Agriculture Symposium.

“By 2050, it is estimated that the world’s population will approach 9 billion people,” McMillan said. “We recognize that supplying people with food and fiber is going to be an issue that must be dealt with quickly in order to prepare for this challenge.

“Alabama alone cannot meet these demands, but we must position ourselves to help meet these challenges,” he added. “With our warm climate, generally abundant water supplies and people, we have the resources to be able to help meet these demands.”

U.S. Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, both members of the House Agriculture Committee, joined McMillan in welcoming participants to the symposium.

Roby renewed her commitment to fight against over-reaching government regulations while working to meet the needs of her farmer constituents. Roby recently introduced legislation inspired by comments she heard from farmers during agricultural listening sessions that would gradually reduce the total acreage enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program.

“We can’t feed the world if the federal government is in competition with farmers to take property out of production,” Roby said.

The Preserving Marginal Lands and Protecting Farming Act, H.R. 3454, would reduce CRP acreage by 20 percent while preserving the program’s ability to protect the most environmentally sensitive lands. Sewell co-sponsored the bill and called on fellow members in Congress to set aside partisan politics and work together for the good of all Americans.

“At the end of the day, no matter how bleak it is when it comes to job creation and the economy, I think we all agree that there is no country in the world that wouldn’t trade places with the United States,” she said.