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Angus Journal

Global Leaders Meet, Discuss Agriculture's Future in Feeding the World

WASHINGTON (Jan. 27, 2012) — World Farmers Organization (WFO) President and National Farmers Union Vice President For International Affairs Robert Carlson attended the World Economic (WE) Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this week at the request of the forum’s leadership. The forum meets annually to develop strategy to improve the state of the world. The gathering is a high-level assembly of business and government leaders from around the world, and is privately financed.

“I am here because the world’s leaders are deeply worried about our ability as farmers to feed a growing world population and they want to hear farmers’ voices to find solutions,” said Carlson. “The good news is that agriculture has never received such prominent attention since the end of World War II, but there are some real challenges for us, too. Water supplies for irrigation are being drawn down faster than they are being recharged and the demands for using fertilizer and pesticides more efficiently and sparingly are real. On top of that, we face the uncertain effects of climate change. We know it is happening, but we don’t really know how it will affect our individual farm production. The bottom line is that we are being asked to produce more with less.”

Agriculture, water use, energy development, and climate change are interconnected in a complex relationship that demands different solutions in different parts of the world. The WE Forum is dedicated to finding efficient, decentralized and practical solutions as quickly as possible through partnerships between private business and government policy. In the developing countries, that means a combination of many improvements to increase farm production, including sources of credit, property rights, plant and animal research, and a whole series of infrastructure improvements such as road transportation; farm supply businesses; storage for fruit, vegetables, grains and meat; and an extension service, things that already exist for the developed world’s farmers.

“To feed another 2 billion people in the next 40 years is a huge opportunity for agriculture, and we know that we can do it because we have before,” said Carlson. “The main point that I make at these meetings is one that is sometimes overlooked in the larger world view: if the world wants farmers to produce more food and fiber in a more sustainable manner, we will do it if we get a price for our products that yields us a profit. Every farmer, whether they are in a poorer country or a richer country, wants to make a profit and improve the quality of life for her or his family. We will make the investments in assets to improve production and efficiency if we have a price incentive and the ability to control some of our economic risk.”

Editor’s Note: This is a release from the National Farmers Union. National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.