The Path to Sustainably Feeding the World

Credit: AFBF Photo/Morgan Walker 

By Anne Meis @nebraska_anne

As a fourth-generation farmer and chairwoman of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action, I was recently given the unique opportunity to be a voice for North American farmers at the United Nations Food Systems Summit Producer Public Forum held virtually in May. It was a daunting task to speak on behalf of thousands of hard-working farmers and ranchers across the United States, but critical for organizers to understand and appreciate that food starts with producers.

USFRA has been active in the UN Sustainable Development Goals discussion, releasing a report last fall highlighting U.S. agriculture’s contributions, as well as working to make sure the U.S. producer perspective is at the table for these global discussions about the future of food.

It is often difficult to understand how and why these broad, far-reaching international goals have meaning to us on our farms and ranches. My family and I are busy every day, raising high-quality products as we wrestle with Mother Nature, markets, weeds, pests and disease. On our northeast Nebraska family farm, we produce corn, soybeans and alfalfa, and graze cattle on the hills and river-bottom land. We are blessed with rich clay soil and a life-giving aquifer for irrigation.

Modern technology and innovation, and our forefathers’ grit, have guided our production methods to where we are today. Yes, we are on a path for continuous improvement, but methods and changes must make sense according to the parameters of our growing season and for the health of our soil. Hence, the need to engage when far-reaching ideas such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals are presented.

Embracing the technological advances and innovations of modern agriculture is the only way to sustainably feed the world for decades to come. To be successful, we must continue to focus on the practical application of food production—no one sitting at a desk can tell me exactly how something will work on my farm with my soil type, growing season, equipment and crop. Producers need to be profitable and food needs to be affordable, and our perspectives must continue to be at the table.

America needs a strong presence on the global stage that reflects diverse farmer and rancher voices. That is why over the last two years, USFRA has worked with farmers, ranchers and other leaders across the value chain, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, to co-create a common Decade of Ag Vision for the future of our sector. Together, U.S. food and agriculture can continue to lead the way to sustainably feeding a growing global population.

Anne Meis farms with her husband, Jim, and his family in Elgin, Nebraska. In addition to serving as chairwoman of U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action, Anne serves on the Nebraska Soybean Board and is a Farm Bureau Member.

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