Environmental Respect 2018: Issues Workshop
On Day Two of the 2018 Environmental Respect Awards Celebration Week in Washington, DC, attendees gathered for a morning-long workshop looking at many of the major issues facing agriculture around the globe. According to Corteva’s Bill Belzer, the goal of this exercise was three-fold: To speculate on what the key issues will be for the marketplace going forward to the year 2030; to identify the key environmental issues by region and value chain that will dominate agriculture during this time frame; and brainstorm some potential solutions/approaches that the industry can take to address these concerns.
“We need to connect all the dots across the entire value chain, from growers to consumers,” said Belzer. “We want to think about what perspectives will be important for environmental stewardship over the next 12 years.”
Right off the bat, Belzer identified both technology and regulations as two of the biggest areas of concerns for agriculture going forward. “Technology will undoubtedly drive a lot of things we do in agriculture from this point on,” he said. “And the regulatory environment will not be getting any easier, especially as consumer demands for proof of food safety keep getting higher than they currently are.”
Tying into this “consumer driven” view, several other attendees mentioned the quest for alternative agriculture products would probably increase as well. “The question of biologicals vs. synthetics will become more prevalent as society makes demands for these kinds of crops,” said Joe Olson, Area Branch Manager for Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC, in Dillsboro, IN.
In other parts of the world outside North America, Environmental Respect Award attendees brought up topics such as illegal product sales, water quality, and spray drift as big concerns. Still, no matter what part of the world was being discussed, virtually all attendees agreed one issue does, and would continue to, dominate the agricultural landscape – money.
“Profitability is the one issue that always seems to be present for farmers, no matter where they are based,” said Richard Stone-Wigg of Lachlan of Kenya. “And let’s face it – if growers aren’t making money, they’re not staying in business.”
To address many of these concerns, Environmental Respect Award attendees recommended the industry do a better job of educating the entire value chain on what is involved to produce a safe, healthy, and profitable crop. “We have to keep sharing our good stories, like the ones we are presenting here at the Environmental Respect event,” said Stone-Wigg. “In this Internet age, bad news can spread like wildfire, and we have to keep educating the world about what we do. Consumers want quality food at a fair price, and it’s up to us to deliver this and tell about how it was produced in the first place.”