AGree plans to change global agriculture. That sounds like a bold statement, but based on the financial and political influence of its backers, the initiative is likely to make an impact.
AGree, which intends to “inform and address food and agriculture policy issues through the direct engagement of diverse groups,” is a collaborative initiative of nine of the world’s leading foundations. These include the Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Walton Family Foundation. The initiative launched in May 2011.
This week the group unveiled its vision for the global food and agriculture system in 2030 and strategies to advance that vision. The group is developing a framework for action around four interrelated challenges that face the food and agriculture system. These include: meeting future demand for food; conserving and enhancing water, soil, and habitat; improving nutrition and public health; and strengthening farms, workers, and communities.
In a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. this week, the group’s four co-chairs outlined strategic priorities. The panel of co-chairs included Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Gary Hirshberg, Chairman, Stonyfield Farm, Jim Moseley, Former USDA Deputy Secretary and Emmy Simmons, former Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade, U.S. Agency for International Development.
Priorities they identified for 2012 and 2013 are:
- Redirect and modernize research, education, and extension institutions in the United States and developing countries;
- Ensure vulnerable populations’ access to nutritious food;
- Align agricultural and food production in the United States with improved environmental outcomes;
- Create a stable, legal food and agriculture workforce in the United States; and
- Attract young people to food and agriculture.
These are ambitions and admirable goals, and this group has the potential for significant influence. If nothing else, the initiative could help build awareness among, governments and society, of the need for continued advancements in agricultural science and food production. According to an AGree statement. “The initiative seeks to drive positive change in the food and agriculture system by connecting and challenging leaders from diverse communities to elevate food and agriculture policy as a national policy priority. AGree also recognizes the interconnected nature of agriculture policy globally and seeks to break down barriers and work across issue areas.”
We wish them well. For more information, visit AGree’s Food and Ag Policy website.