Many people have asked farmers and ranchers what we think about World Food Day, organized by the Food & Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (October 16) and Food Day, sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interests (October 24). In a month focused on food and Food Days, it is essential that farmers and ranchers continue our commitment to listening to Americans and to show our support for producing healthy choices for people everywhere. We can find common ground with many different voices on this purpose – even if we disagree on more granular issues.
We want to give honest answers to tough, complex and emotional questions about how we grow and raise food. There are some voices that may be unhappy with modern farming and ranching and will raise issues during both Food Days that are counter to many farmers' and ranchers' beliefs – such as accusations that most large farms are factory farms or that we aren’t dedicated to solving global food issues.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We are your neighbors, and we are committed to not only improving how we grow and raise food, but also how we talk about these issues.
We launched the Town Hall last month as a first step in listening to Americans’ concerns and questions about food production in the U.S. We know it’s important to continue the dialogue and we’re beginning to share our personal stories about farming and ranching. We’re also making efforts to correct misperceptions and inaccurate information about our food. The effort isn't perfect, but we are taking important steps. Some skeptics may assume that USFRA is exclusive to “Big Ag” or to our industry partners and that the six guiding principles of Food Day are anathema to our values.
We’d like to make our perspective clear on CSPI’s Food Day Goals - you’ll see that we share many of the same values.
- CSPI: Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy choices
USFRA: WE AGREE. Farmers and ranchers support efforts to continuously improve food production so healthy choices are available to people everywhere.
- CSPI: Support sustainable farms & limit subsidies to big agribusiness
USFRA: WE COMPLETELY SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE FARMS BUT BELIEVE THE DEFINITION OF “SUSTAINABLE” ENCOMPASES MANY THINGS. WE DON’T COMMENT ON POLICY ISSUES. We believe in farming and ranching that is sustainable. To us this means helping people everywhere thrive, improving the health of the planet and growing strong businesses. USFRA is not a policy organization so we cannot comment on government policies like farm subsidies. But we encourage farmers and ranchers to lend their individual opinions.
- CSPI: Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
USFRA: WE AGREE. Farmers and ranchers passionately support efforts to alleviate hunger in the US and abroad and to make healthy choices affordable to everyone.
- CSPI: Protect the environment & animals by reforming factory farms
USFRA: WE AGREE BUT WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT ALL LARGE FARMS SHOULD NOT BE UNFAIRLY LABELED AS FACTORY FARMS. To protect animals and the environment we believe all farms, large and small, should:
- Keep our animals healthy by setting, improving and policing high standards for their well being
- Support punishing to the fullest extent of the law anyone who abuses animals
- Reduce our impact on the environment by minimizing when possible the use of inputs and resources from water to fertilizer to pesticides
- Employ cutting-edge solutions for clean water, air and soil
- Base decisions on peer reviewed science, verification and respect for consumer values
And, we believe most large farms are not so-called “factory farms.” Large does not mean bad.
- CSPI: Promote health by curbing junk-food marketing to kids
USFRA: WE DON’T COMMENT ON POLICY ISSUES BUT CONTINUALLY WORK WITH OUR PARTNERS TO IMPROVE HEALTHY CHOICES. As farmers and ranchers we are committed to working with food production, processing and distribution systems and partners to better answer Americans questions about how our food is produced.
- CSPI: Support fair conditions for food and farm workers
USFRA: WE AGREE. We strive to provide fair wages and conditions for people who work on our farms and to support the economic vitality of our local communities.
For more on what we stand for, click here.
We’re not all going to agree on every issue when we talk about food and the future of food, but we will continue to listen to Americans and strive to find solutions. On World Food Day and Food Day, seek out a farmer or rancher and ask them questions about how they grow and raise food and how technological advancements are helping them improve. You’ll find that many of us are happy to share our stories, provide honest answers to your questions and engage in a healthy, constructive dialogue.
Fundamentally, farmers and ranchers – no matter the type or size - all want to do better. We’ve set the table for discussion. Let’s sit down on World Food Day and on Food Day and continue the conversation.