A staggering 98 percent of Americans has no direct connection to where the food they eat comes from.* That leaves just 2 percent with farming ties and a lot of misconceptions about how our food is grown. Now more than ever, we need to continue the conversation about how we’ll meet the challenges ahead.
We helped initiate the Feeding the Planet series that is a part of Planet Forward, a unique convening body hosted by George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs that engages young people and innovators in addressing the biggest challenges facing our planet. The Feeding the Planet series includes think-tank style salons that each explore specific ideas in addressing the future of food and shapes the agenda of an annual summit built to spark new ideas from scientists, business leaders, advocates, students and government leaders.
Our member-owners have also joined the discussion. Ten dairy farmer and local cooperative member leaders attended the inaugural summit and a number have participated in the salons to share their sustainable productivity stories and offer solutions to complex agricultural problems.
We also established the Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security
program. The yearlong fellowship provides an opportunity for 10 students to identify innovative and practical ways to improve food security. In addition to strengthening our relationship with key universities, the program is designed to encourage creative thinking that could spark our industry’s next big innovation. Students will engage with other future leaders and industry advocates, sharing knowledge, experiences and bringing new ideas to the table.
The fellowship will culminate in an 11-week summer internship, during which the students will learn from local cooperative and dairy members, engage with legislators and regulators in Washington, D.C., and travel to Africa to participate in a project administered through our International Development Division
* American Farm Bureau Federation, 2014