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Friday, June 2, 2017

A Love of Innovation and a Hate for Change

Full Disclosure:  I attended the Alltech One Conference.  My travel expenses were paid for by Alltech, but the thoughts I had following the conference are my own.

800 million people will to go bed hungry tonight.
Tomorrow, 25,000 people will die of starvation. 
Each year more people die of hunger than HIV, malaria, and road accidents COMBINED.

As Jack Bobo was introduced, I have to admit I was not looking forward to a great speech.  His title “Can Ag save the Planet Before it Destroys Itself?” had me expecting to hear about all the evils of farming and ranching.  I mean he works for a synthetic biology company, Intrexon, whatever that is.

According to Bobo, farming uses 70% of the earth’s fresh water and 40% of all land is dedicated to food production.  Initially, I thought wow that is too much water to be used.  We don’t irrigate our crops on our farm, but my friends who do are doing amazing things to decrease the amount of water they use.  Bobo went on to say, “There is nothing more critical to our survival than ag.”  I'll let that soak in a moment.  In fact, I will wait while you read that again.  That is a pretty powerful statement…without food we fail to survive.  Is 70% of the earth’s fresh water really too much?

We have all heard that we are going to need 60-100% more food produced by 2050 to feed our growing population.  To do this, we are going to need to be able to use technology.  Some of these technologies are accepted by consumers and others are not. 

Have you ever wondered why people love innovations, but hate change?  I am as guilty as the next guy.  I love my autosteer on my combine, but when I am flying I want that paper boarding pass.  There is no way I am trusting my phone to keep my flight information for me.  Innovations are coming at us faster and faster every year.  Just think back to 1980, you had a camera, Walkman, calculator, compass, map, and a phone on the wall, and now it is all in your pocket.
Photo Credit to Farm Kid Blog for snapping a picture of this slide at ONE17.
Farmers are no different.  Just look at what we have accomplished since 1980 with the help of science and technology:

Farmers, ranchers, and scientists are continuing to innovate to make food production more efficient, safer for the environment and even making foods more nutritious.  What we need to do is learn to tell the stories of our innovations to our consumers.  After all, consumers have never cared more and known less about their food than right now.

We have technologies available that could allow fewer people to go to bed hungry tonight, but the affluent members of our society are fighting to let those technologies be used.  Isn’t it our responsibility to take care of our fellow man?  Shouldn’t we be trying to help them live a better life rather than making it hard for them to afford food?  Shouldn’t we allow them to have access to food that could solve many of their nutritional deficiencies?

Here’s your challenge to leave a comment:

If you are a consumer: What would you like to know more about your food? (If the question is about a food I don’t raise, let me help you find a farmer who does raise it.  Maybe we can get them to host Flat Aggie next year, too.)

If you are a farmer and a consumer:  What do you wish consumers knew about your farm or how you produce their food?

Want to see more of the things I have learned at the Alltech conferences the last five years?  You'll like these:

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