Eight of the world's leading foundations have come together to launch an initiative that will tackle long-term food and agriculture policy issues. This new initiative, Agree, is designed to nurture dialogue and solutions among diverse opinions on agriculture issues.
One of its leaders is former Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Jim Moseley who says the initiative will help with current situations.
"There's a lot going on in the world concerning agricultural and food policy," Moseley said. "There seems to be some misunderstanding, some confusion, there's certainly a lot of angst about agricultural policy. How could we contribute to make this process perhaps a little bit clearer to folks and as a result AGree came into being."
According to Moseley this is a pivotal time for food and agriculture policy. He notes the global population is expected to grow 38% over the next four decades and we need to figure out how to feed more than nine billion people. What's more, he says the way ag policy is developed is changing.
"There was a time 30 or 40 years ago that ag policy was basically decided by the ag committees and the farm organizations; it's no longer that way," Moseley said. "Ag policy, food policy, nutrition policy, nutrition policy, environmental policy, energy policy, all of those areas impact agriculture in some way. The time is right for us to broaden the dialogue, to have more stakeholders come to the table and let's have these discussions and try to work out some of these contentious issues that seem to be surfacing. We simply can't find a better way to move forward."
Moseley says dialogue across sectors is the key to solving the hard policy questions that exist today. He likens it to a picture puzzle with several pieces missing. AGree will attempt to find some of those missing pieces to give a much clearer view of where ag policy is going.
To enable these effective and meaningful discussions about food and agriculture policy, AGree will provide the first steps of genuine dialogue and insightful data. The group will lay a path forward through sound solutions generated by careful research and analysis that can guide policymakers and stakeholders. Moseley says this is long-term work, at least eight years, and Agree's goals go further than the context of the 2012 Farm Bill.
"There are no predetermined outcomes at this point and time; there can't be," Moseley said. "I would anticipate though that some of the questions in the Farm Bill will be taken up by this group, and there will be discussions and there will be some things to say about it as we research these options. The focus of the group goes way beyond the farm bill."
Moseley says starting discussions with a diverse set of stakeholders, including traditional and organic farmers, nutritionists, energy experts, environmentalists, public health specialists and more, ahead of the legislative process and fostering understanding and reasoning ahead of time will result in better policy.