Did you thank a farmer today or have a chance to talk to a farmer? If not, now is the time. This week we celebrated National Ag Day on Thursday, where farmers and ranchers alike come together and celebrate the traditions of farming as well as new technological advancements to help keep our industry moving forward.

To celebrate Ag Day and to engage our consumers and ag friends in dialogue, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance hosted a panel discussion with Agri-Pulse Communications on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.  During the discussion, the panel – which included representatives across the industry - explored the future of food and farming. We asked: is technology in agriculture creating environmental improvements and economic growth or perpetuating public fears?

We welcomed Bloomberg agriculture reporter Alan Bjerga to lead a panel of voices within our community:

  • Dr. Eileen Langdon, a North Carolina family farmer and veterinarian
  • Dr. Roger Beachy, president emeritus at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and former director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA
  • Bryan Dierlam, director of government affairs at Cargill
  • Dave White, chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Patrick O’Toole, a Wyoming-Colorado rancher and president of the Family Farm Alliance

Key quotes that set the stage:

“People want to have a tangible connection to food, even though so few of us produce it anymore.” – O’Toole

“They (farmers and ranchers) have the moral imperative to take care of their animals and natural resources…” – Langdon

“Bottom line is things are going to change. We have to understand the big picture of sustainability.” – O'Toole

“It’s so important to have an interest in the issues of agriculture as we see the world’s population on an upward trajectory and food demand rising even more quickly than that.” – Bjerga

Our panel answered questions from Twitter, Facebook and the audience about how our industry is improving. Key topics for conversation surrounded technology in agriculture, sustainability and moving the next generation into the farm.

Our event included more than 1,000 watching the live-streamed video on our site and nearly 250 in attendance on Capitol Hill. We’ve captured the entire discussion on video and posted it here. Or you can visit our YouTube channel.

If you missed the event but would like to ask a question on farming or one of the related topics of discussion from the panel, please let us know by commenting or posting on our Facebook page. Technology – along with our industry – is always evolving. We hope our conversations are too.