Taking Bold Action to Accelerate Sustainability Goals, Food and Agriculture Leaders Create First-of-its-Kind Sector-Wide Vision

Carbon emissions

St. Louis, MO—September 17, 2020—In a moment of possibility where financial, consumer and societal trends are converging around the need for new action on climate change, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA) this week issued a new report spotlighting the key role U.S. agriculture plays in reaching the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

USFRA released the report at its annual Honor the Harvest Forum, co-hosted by The Aspen Institute, which virtually convened more than 200 farmer, rancher, food, agriculture, finance, science and technology leaders to finalize a first-of-its-kind food and agriculture sector-wide vision: a future where a resilient, restorative, economically viable, and climate-smart agricultural system produces abundant and nutritious food, natural fiber and clean energy for a sustainable, vibrant and prosperous America.

“Farmers and ranchers are uniquely positioned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using on-farm practices that increase carbon storage and improve soil, but they can’t do it alone,” said USFRA CEO, Erin Fitzgerald. “The agriculture industry is currently on a trajectory to halve its carbon footprint in the next ten years. Continued innovation and collaboration at scale is required from every corner of the food value chain to reduce greenhouse gases and provide for our communities in the next decade.”

According to the report, U.S. Agriculture’s Opportunities to Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, U.S. agriculture contributes to all 17 SDGs to sustain people, the planet and prosperity. The sector has an outsized positive impact on a core group of seven SDGs, reflecting both progress to-date and new avenues to address national and global challenges: Clean Water and Sanitation, Climate Action, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Life Below Water, Life on Land, Responsible Consumption and Production and Zero Hunger.

Unmatched collaboration across the food value chain is required to recover from recent events and build resiliency to manage future shocks and ensure climate-smart ag solutions are accessible and affordable for farmers and ranchers. Disaster events caused over $560 billion in damages in the United States from 2010-2019, before the global pandemic, supply chain disruptions and extreme weather events of 2020.

“There has never been a more important time in our history to co-create the sustainable food systems of the future,” said USFRA Board Chairman and seventh generation farmer, Chip Bowling. “At this year’s Honor the Harvest Forum we deepened focus on coordinating efforts to ensure our food system remains resilient and adaptive to meet challenges on the farm and throughout the supply chain to continue to feed people and support communities.”

This year’s Honor the Harvest forum builds on USFRA’s 2019 convening, which brought together food and agriculture sector thought leaders to create an action framework for the next Decade of Agriculture. The 2020 event featured working sessions with farmers, ranchers, and food industry stakeholders who will advance their sector-wide vision through individual and collective commitments supporting four outcome areas:

  • Restore our environment through agriculture that regenerates natural resources
  • Revitalize our collective appreciation for agriculture
  • Invest in the next generation of agricultural systems
  • Strengthen the social and economic fabric of America through agriculture

Commitments – which include actions already in progress – will be solidified over the next year to advance these outcomes through focused investments; optimized data, metrics and technology; authentic storytelling and workforce development.

Leaders Weigh in on Bold Actions Needed for Change

“Americans have a greater appreciation today, than they did prior to the pandemic, for the connectedness of our agricultural and food systems – and the impact to their daily lives,” said The Aspen Institute Executive Director of Energy and Environmental Program, Greg Gershuny. “Now more than ever, we need to work together to co-create and enable the sustainable food systems of the future.”

“Farmers are the original conservationists. We know how important it is to protect the soil. But farmers alone can’t be responsible for this monumental task. The next generation of agricultural leaders is already at work with partners across the sector to bring real change,” said 4-H member and USFRA Honor the Harvest Advisory Council member, Addy Battel.

“We must accelerate investment in science and data to enable farmers to rapidly respond to climate change,” said the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Executive Director and USFRA Board Member, Dr. Sally Rockey. “Doing so will help restore our environment, regenerate natural resources, and advance the next generation of agricultural systems.

ABOUT USFRA
U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA), formerly U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, represents farmer and rancher-led organizations, and food and agricultural partners, with a common vision to further our global sustainable food systems. We believe farmers uniquely contribute to nourishing our planet, people, and natural resources. Our focus is creating a proactive collaboration between the best minds in food, agriculture, science, and technology to co-create solutions that will result in environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Learn more at www.usfarmersandranchers.org.

ABOUT THE “U.S. AGRICULTURE’S OPPORTUNITIES TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS” REPORT

Established in 2015 and adopted by all 193 United Nations member countries, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.

This report establishes that U.S. agriculture contributes to all 17 SDGs and has an outsized positive impact on a core group of seven. It serves a basis for members of the food and agriculture value chain to acknowledge their own positive contributions, align on challenges that remain and advance specific opportunities to reduce environmental impacts – in the U.S. and in the developing world. In accordance with the framework set out in the SDG Sector Roadmap Guidelines developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), the findings were developed through a literature review and rigorous stakeholder engagement process comprising 41 interviews and a review workshop with stakeholders from across the value chain. USFRA’s partners in the creation of the report were United Soybean Board, WBCSD and ERM.

About Honor the Harvest FORUM

The Honor the Harvest (HTH) Forum, co-hosted by U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action and the Aspen Institute, is an invitation-only event, bringing together farmer, rancher, food and agriculture leaders and changemakers from across the sector value chain for expert dialogue and roll-up-your-sleeves working sessions to accelerate climate-smart ag solutions to nourish a growing population, support healthy communities and enhance the planet. The 2020 virtual HTH Forum continues the work of the 2019 inaugural HTH Forum where 100 leaders gathered on a 1400-acre farm outside of Washington, D.C., to draft a vision and mobilize priority projects for the sector. Now with more than 200 leaders and a unified vision to guide collective action, the group is shaping commitments to protect the future of sustainable food, fiber and energy in the next decade.

The 2020 HTH Forum sponsors include: Bader Rutter, Bayer, Cargill, CoBank, Corteva, Dairy Management Inc., Dairy West, Edelman, Ernst & Young, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Frog Design, McDonald’s, Native American Agriculture Fund, National Pork Board, Nebraska Soybean Board, Nestlé Purina, Nutrien, OCP North America, Ruan, Tyson, United Soybean Board and Wells Fargo.

SOURCE U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA)

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