Delegates attending the U.S. Grains Council’s 51st Annual Board of Delegates Meeting in San Francisco carved time out from their Advisory Team and business meetings to welcome visiting experts from government, academia and the private sector to discuss key issues and opportunities facing U.S. producers and agricultural exporters today.
A dynamic presentation from Steve “Doc” Blizzard, a producer and current chairman of the California Apple Commission, highlighted the challenges posed to agriculture by rapidly increasing regulation, conflicts over water rights in states like California, and urbanization.
It is no longer enough just to grow the crop and meet market competition; farmers must navigate an ever-more complex maze of extraneous pressures.
Among these new pressures is the imperative of growing more with less, and the Delegates heard from two of the world’s leading authorities in this area, Hobart Beeghly of Monsanto and Rattan Lal of Ohio State Univeristy.
Beeghly currently heads Product Management for Monsanto’s U.S. Seeds and Traits organization, and Lal, recipient of the Norman E. Borlaug award among many other honors, is one of the world’s leading authorities on soils.
Beeghly reviewed the history and continuing acceleration of the biotech revolution in seeds. Lal stressed that growing world population will require not only growing more with less, but doing so in ways that will enhance and restore soil quality at the same time.
From an international perspective, Delegates also heard from Sambhav Chowdhary, vice-president of operations for Santosh Starch Products, who described the rapid pace of consumer demand and product innovation in India.
Ellen Levinson, president of Levinson and Associates, reminded delegates that the fundamental task of feeding a hungry world remains as vital today as ever.
While the global middle class is growing rapidly, large sectors of the third world still face mass malnutrition, and active engagement by both public and private international entities is desperately needed to close the nutritional gap.
A final presentation from Daniel Whitley, deputy director of Global Policy Analysis at USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, highlighted the potential of U.S. agriculture to do just that: U.S. productivity is high and growing; global markets are rapidly expanding; farm income is strong; and the future is bright.