Conservation Ag Movement Encourages “Trust in Food”

Garden plot with the numbered label #3 with beans, corn, and yellow and orange flowers
A stop on the "Voice of the Farmer" garden tour (Farm Journal photo)
Jul 29, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC -- Last Friday, policymakers, journalists, and leaders in the agriculture and food industries gathered here for a discussion of the future of sustainability and conservation in U.S. food production.  Hosted by Farm Journal’s Trust in Food initiative and the Farm Journal Foundation, the event kicked off America’s Conservation Ag Movement (ACAM), a public-private partnership that focuses on empowering farmers through conservation and sustainability.

USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey delivered a keynote speech that emphasized the mutually beneficial relationship between farming and sustainability.  “As the saying goes, ‘You can’t kick people toward you.’  We have to figure out how to make all the changes we want to make in agriculture work for farmers,” said Northey.  “Today’s consumers are more interested than ever before in who’s growing and raising their food and how.  Building transparency has to begin on the farm.  It has to start with producers working together to meet consumer expectations for a healthy, planet-friendly food system, and telling consumers about the systems of production we use that steward water, land, air, and create abundant wildlife habitats.”

U.S. rice was a hot topic at the event, with panelists highlighting the many achievements of the rice industry in sustainability and wildlife conservation.

“We work with rice farmers and USA Rice to provide technical assistance and financial incentives to improve water quality and increase their efficiency in all things that help their bottom line,” said Craig R. LeSchack, interim chief conservation officer at Ducks Unlimited.  “It comes down to working with landowners in ways that make economic sense to them, but those farmers have a conservation ethic already instilled.  We’re able to tap into that through these programs.”

The event concluded with a special preview tour of a new outdoor installation on the National Mall entitled, “Agriculture Through the Voice of the Farmer.”  The garden includes many U.S. crops and showcases technologies that are critical to producing affordable, wholesome food while preserving healthy soil, clean water, and abundant wildlife habitat.  The installation is designed to be educational, connecting visitors to the growers who produce their food through video kiosks and a farmer-voiced smartphone walking tour.

The garden will be open to the public through October 2020.