Solutions from the Land’s involvement in global talks on the world’s most pressing issues continued this week with the participation of SfL Co-Chair Fred Yoder in the latest United Nations Food Systems Summit dialogue. The discussion among invited leaders of the food and agriculture value chain around the world covered the means to transform our food systems to enhance nutrition, biodiversity, livelihoods and resilience to climate change, among other areas.
The event aimed to build upon the outcomes of a series of producer-led independent dialogues (in which SfL has been involved) and examined the challenges, contributions, responsibilities and expectations of farmers, livestock producers, fishermen and others in transforming the world’s food systems.
Many of the points discussed and agreed on during the event reflect positions taken and advocated by SfL during its longtime involvement in global talks on climate and food systems. Key points coming out the dialogue as noted by Yoder include:
- The vital importance of science and data needed for the food and agriculture sectors to move ahead in a world that continually faces growing challenges.
- Those in the agricultural sector must all be considered equal in the structuring of solutions, regardless of the size of their operations.
- There is no one size fits all solutions to the challenges faced.
- Focus must be maintained on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 17 interlinked global objectives adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015 to be attained by 2030. Designed to serve as a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all,” the SDGs aim to end hunger, stem climate change and boost water resources, among other outcomes.
- Those in the agriculture sector must be recognized as decision makers and must be compensated if additional costs are incurred.
- Production goals must be more efficiently determined to optimize yields, while allowing farmers and ranchers to produce more with less inputs, such as fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
- Livestock production offers its own unique solutions to the climate challenge. Managed correctly, cows help restore healthy soils, conserve sensitive species and enhance overall ecological function. Proper cattle grazing management can even help mitigate climate change by holding carbon in the soil.
Dialogue participants were also told the ag sector can commit to net zero emissions by 2050, if policy makers provide the tools and incentives that encourage farmers and ranchers to do so.
Dialogue participants also cited a number of societal issues that are having adverse effects on the agricultural sector, calling on those in the industry to organize themselves in a manner that makes them a stronger, more focused voice. With that enhanced position of influence, they can do more to push back on the demonization of farmers and ranchers, and instead, with technology as a tool, position themselves as “solutions” to the challenges the world’s food systems are experiencing.
Also called for in this week’s dialogue was a new focus among those in the sector on producing more nutritious food, while, in turn, generating efforts to get consumers to recognize “fake foods” and realize how unnatural they are.
The dialogue underscored major points long emphasized by SfL, including the fact that farmers and ranchers offer solutions to challenges faced by the food systems, and that they present diverse talents and expertise that can be readily exploited to meet the multiple risks ahead. However, those in the ag sector must be given the latitude to offer their solutions from the multiplicity of systems in which they operate. Fair treatment from policy makers will optimize the contributions those in the ag sector can make to shore up the food system. Give producers the opportunity to gain the appreciation from the public they deserve.