FAO in North America

Today’s Featured Perspectives Essays

Submitted by Amy McMillen on September 30, 2014

By Amy McMillen, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator, FAO-Washington, DC.

Curated by the FAO Liaison Office for North America with the World Food Day Network, Perspectives is an essay series that digs deeper into the annual World Food Day theme.  This year, read different points of view on the value and future of family farming from farmers, ranchers, and leaders in agriculture, research and economics.  Two essays will be featured daily starting September 15 through October 16, World Food Day.

In Today’s Perspectives we return to the important topic of the next generation of family farmers. What entices young people back to farming or to be the first generation of farmers in their family? George Boody, Executive Director of the Land Stewardship Project and Beth Satterwhite share interesting perspectives to consider.

“Part of what this new generation of farmers is seeking is an opportunity to be part of a community—human and natural.” “Farming can help such a community thrive by relying on diverse cropping systems and livestock production techniques that utilize continuous living cover to restore soil structure, organic matter content and water holding capacity, while being productive.” George Boody argues that “It’s time to shift this narrative to a story about food and farming systems based on sustainable, community-based approaches that keep the land and people together, provide healthful food to eat now and the chance for future generations to do so in the future.”

Beth Satterwhite explores her journey to become a farmer, from researching food systems to directly impacting them through producing food.  “What’s my favorite part about farming? I really love the physicality of the work and being outside, experiencing all of the seasonal changes and weather extremes. I also love interacting directly with my customers at farmers’ markets. It’s a huge moral support to be able to chat with folks about what they’re making with our food, new veggies they’ve discovered, and so on, especially since I spend so much of my time alone in the fields. Farming is incredibly personal. Until you become a farmer, it’s hard to understand how invested we are…emotionally, financially… We go all in! Having those conversations makes it all worth it.” “What advice do I have for young people interested in getting into farming? First, you have to learn by experience: if you’re interested, do it for a year and then re-evaluate. Second, if you love it: go for it. Although it’s tough to earn a living from farming at first, with work, creativity, and good research you can find a way to make it work.”

Read both articles in today’s Perspectives.

Today’s Perspectives Featured Essay

Submitted by Amy McMillen on September 29, 2014

By Amy McMillen, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator, FAO-Washington, DC.

Curated by the FAO Liaison Office for North America with the World Food Day Network, Perspectives is an essay series that digs deeper into the annual World Food Day theme.  This year, read different points of view on the value and future of family farming from farmers, ranchers, and leaders in agriculture, research and economics.  Two essays will be featured daily starting September 15 through October 16, World Food Day.

Today’s Perspectives address the linkages between national security, financial security and food security.  After 30 years of government service it is clear to Ambassador Daniel Speckhard that food security, economic security, national security, global security are all intertwined.  Now as CEO of Lutheran World Relief, “The more that we in the development community can do to support smallholder farmers who provide more than four fifths of the food in the developing world, the more we will be doing to ensure a safe and secure world for our children and grandchildren.”

Mina Devi a vegetable farmer in Bihar, India,  “Five years back, I wouldn’t have believed you could get this much money from farming vegetables. Back then, we farmed just enough for us to eat, using the practices I grew up with…I don’t worry so much anymore now. My life is secure now, and most importantly, my family is provided for.”

Read both articles in today’s Perspectives.

FAO joins new global efforts targeting Ebola and other infectious diseases

Submitted by Lívia Pontes on September 26, 2014

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva speaks at the Global Health Security Summit at the White House.

26 September 2014, Washington, D.C. – FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today stressed the need for controls on animal health to help curb the spread of Ebola and other infectious diseases dangerous to humans, during discussions hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The FAO chief joined leaders of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and representatives from more than 40 countries at the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) event held at the White House in Washington, D.C.

President Obama underscored the importance of dealing with the breakout of infectious diseases collectively, highlighting that in a world that is deeply interconnected, outbreaks have the potential to impact every country. “No nation can meet this challenge on its own. Nobody is that isolated,” he said, stressing the need for global cooperation.

The U.S. government-initiated GHSA is an international partnership to strengthen health systems with the objective to prevent, detect and respond to emerging disease threats. It is estimated that 70 percent of new infectious diseases that have emerged in humans over recent decades have animal origin, mostly from wildlife.

Graziano da Silva underlined that “controlling zoonotic diseases and emerging threats at the human, animal and ecosystems interface needs an integrated and multidisciplinary approach that brings different sectors to work closely together to attain the health of people, animals and the environment.”

He noted how this is echoed in the One Health agenda which has seen FAO, as part of its tripartite partnership (FAO-WHO-OIE), integrate this approach in its vision for sustainable livestock development “to attain a healthier and more prosperous world.”

By focusing on prevention, countries can minimize loss of human life when diseases cross over from animal to human populations and thus become harder to manage – a fact illustrated by the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the FAO Director-General said.

He expressed “great concern” over the possible impact of this epidemic on “food security and livelihoods of affected communities, with a potential to cause long-term food insecurity in West Africa, as a result of prolonged disruption of crop harvesting and subsequent planting.”

The FAO Director-General in his address also mentioned other recent emerging diseases of animal origin that affect humans such as H5N1 avian influenza, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

“There is a need to set up global preparedness, surveillance and response programmes,” Graziano da Silva told participants at the White House event. He welcomed the GHSA’s focus on prevention, detection and response, and noted how FAO shared this approach.

Graziano da Silva reiterated FAO’s commitment, alongside WHO and OIE, to further support countries in tackling threats to health from animal sources. FAO works with country and regional partners to assist them to develop preparedness and contingency plans for animal health-related events, and these capacities serve both public health and food security aims.

FAO also contributes to health protection through its work on the Joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, that provides guidance on food safety and public health taking into account the entire food chain.

The Director-General, in his address at the White House event, emphasized the strong link between nutrition and human health. He noted how the upcoming Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), jointly organized by FAO and WHO, will establish a framework of actions on nutrition that will be part of the Post-2015 Agenda.

Today’s Featured Perspectives Essays

Submitted by Amy McMillen on September 26, 2014

By Sunhye Park, Communications Intern, FAO-Washington, DC.

Curated by the FAO Liaison Office for North America with the World Food Day Network, Perspectives is an essay series that digs deeper into the annual World Food Day theme.  This year, read different points of view on the value and future of family farming from farmers, ranchers, and leaders in agriculture, research and economics.  Two essays will be featured daily starting September 15 through October 16, World Food Day.

“When the United Nations declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF), it allowed many citizens, who for generations have been removed from food production, to pause and think about what critical components need to be in place to ensure the increased production of wholesome, affordable and sustainable food. “  Roger Johnson, President of National Farmers Union challenges us to consider that identifying and empowering the next generation of family farmers is one of those critical components. This is why NFU sponsors the Beginning Farmers Institute (BFI) to transfer professional skills to assist young farmers.

We have all been to the state fair and enjoyed the livestock barns with young people beaming with pride as they show their animals. Have you ever wondered why they do it and why they are so proud? As Ridge Howell’s friend notes, “It seems kind of silly to lead a huge animal around an arena.”  Ridge explains that before you can show an animal, you must learn everything there is to know about it. The benefits are two-fold, not only does the student learn about the animal, but the state fair attendees learn through those students. Facing the proposition that there will soon be more people than the current food supply can support and that the average age of farmers grows ever higher, he emphasizes the duty of everyone with any knowledge in agriculture to go the extra mile to educate someone else because, “Everyone who eats and wears clothes is involved in agriculture. We are trying to EDUCATE others because if we don’t, there one day will not be any people to educate… this is why we show livestock.”

Read both articles in today’s Perspectives.

Today’s Featured Perspectives Essays

Submitted by Amy McMillen on September 25, 2014

By Sunhye Park, Communications Intern, FAO-Washington, DC.

Curated by the FAO Liaison Office for North America with the World Food Day Network, Perspectives is an essay series that digs deeper into the annual World Food Day theme.  This year, read different points of view on the value and future of family farming from farmers, ranchers, and leaders in agriculture, research and economics.  Two essays will be featured daily starting September 15 through October 16, World Food Day.

Today in Perspectives, Danielle Nierenberg and Alison Devine of Food Tank reveal the “image problem in agriculture” with the startling fact that “half of farmers in the United States are 55 years or older and in South Africa the average age of farmers is around 62 years old”. Globally, the average age of the current generation of farmers is on the rise, and it is particularly concerning for developing countries that rely predominantly on agriculture for their GDP. The essay showcases examples from the Caribbean to Europe of young farmers’ coalition and projects that are striving to make agriculture an attractive career option. “It’s time for a revolution in the food system—young and new farmers need support to nourish future generations…World Food Day is a day for action, community, and mobilization between all members of the food system; most importantly, World Food Day must highlight and engage youth in the food system.”

One such young ambitious farmer is Andrew Campbell, a dairy farmer and Partner at Bellson Farms, Strathroy, Ontario. As a family farmer who is continuing the dairy farm that his grandparents started, he is proud of providing milk to the 5,600 people that rely on their farm. ”With the sweat, smiles and tears, that every farmer experiences daily, they built a farm that my Mom and Dad would raise their family on, and that I will now raise mine on…It is a privilege to be brought to your table.”

Read both article’s in today’s Perspectives.

Today’s Featured Perspectives Essays

Submitted by Amy McMillen on September 24, 2014

By Amy McMillen, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator, FAO-Washington, DC

Curated by the FAO Liaison Office for North America with the World Food Day NetworkPerspectives is an essay series that digs deeper into the annual World Food Day theme.  This year, read different points of view on the value and future of family farming from farmers, ranchers, and leaders in agriculture, research and economics.  Two essays will be featured daily starting September 15 through October 16, World Food Day.


In today’s Perspectives, John Coonrod, PhD, Executive Director of The Hunger Project zeros in on one of the most effective tools to reduce poverty and alleviate hunger, strengthening local democracy while ensuring women have the same rights as men. “Grassroots civil society and public institutions must be strengthened to empower all the hundreds of millions of small-scale women farmers to succeed and attain power to apply their wisdom. As research has shown, when institutions work for women, they work for everyone.” Read about some of the innovative systems approaches women are leading around the world to ensure their voices are heard.

Since she was very young, Mercedes Santis Ruiz’s mother taught her how to use a loom, and today she works as a textile artisan in Bayalemo, Chiapas, Mexico. She never thought to grow a garden at home, but after attending a workshop by The Hunger Project, she has found another way to take care of her family. Mercedes draws special attention to the value of an integrated approach to growing vegetables, using compost instead of chemical fertilizers.  The nutritious and safe vegetables provide inexpensive, nourishing food for her family.

Read both article’s in today’s Perspectives.

Event: World Food Day Discussion on Family Farming in the 21st Century

Submitted by Lívia Pontes on September 24, 2014

To celebrate World Food Day 2014, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and The National Geographic Society are organizing an event on 22 October 2014, 12:00-3:00pm, at the National Geographic Auditorium, 1145 17th Street NW, Washington D.C.

The event “Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth – Family Farming in the 21st Century” will bring together policy makers, opinion leaders, family farmers and business executives, to explore the role of smallholder farms in the U.S. and around the world. It will feature Prof. Sanjaya Rajaram, 2014 World Food Prize Laureate, as one of the key-note speakers. The event is open to partners and interested public, and we hope you will be able to participate in this important discussion. For those unable to attend in person, webstreaming will be offered.

RSVP HERE

Why Family Farming on World Food Day

Family farming includes all family-based agricultural, forestry, fisheries and livestock activities, and it is linked to several areas of rural development. Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector. There are over 500 million family farms in the world, representing 98% of farm holdings. Their rural activities are managed and operated by a family and rely predominantly on family labor.

Focusing on family farming will help a) eradicate hunger, b) protect the environment and c) contribute to sustainable economic development.

To read more about the event and see the program, click here.


Taking the Pulse of Family Farmers

Submitted by Amy McMillen on September 23, 2014

By Erica Oakley, Associate, Humanitas Global

Each year on October 16th, the world observes World Food Day, a day to highlight the challenges and achievements made in the fight to end global hunger, malnutrition and poverty. This year—because it is the International Year of Family Farming—the theme for World Food Day is focused on the important role family farmers, big and small, play as local, regional and international leaders in feeding the world and stewarding natural resources.

To spur the conversation around family farming in North America, Humanitas Global and Food Tank in collaboration with the World Food Day Network are “taking the pulse” of current and former family farmers through a brief survey. The findings will be used in advocacy and awareness efforts in collaboration with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization to support World Food Day held annually on October 16.

The survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/familyfarming. We ask that you respond by Wednesday, October 1, 2014.

We hope that you will participate in the survey and share with your friends, family and broader network. Please email Erica at oakleye@humanitasglobal.com with any questions.

Today’s Featured Perspectives Essay

Submitted by Amy McMillen on September 23, 2014

By Amy McMillen, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator, FAO-Washington, DC

Curated by the FAO Liaison Office for North America with the World Food Day NetworkPerspectives is an essay series that digs deeper into the annual World Food Day theme.  This year, read different points of view on the value and future of family farming from farmers, ranchers, and leaders in agriculture, research and economics.  Two essays will be featured daily starting September 15 through October 16, World Food Day.

Today’s focus in Perspectives, is on sustainable ranching. Sasha Lytuse at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) highlights the work of three Growing Green Award winners, Russ Kremer of Missouri, Will Harris of Georgia, and Gabe Brown of North Dakota.  The award honors outstanding achievements in sustainable food production and farming. “In the livestock industry, heroes don’t always get their due. Russ, Will and Gabe are living proof that sustainability is both possible and profitable.”

Kelsey Beasley, microbiologist and rancher in Youngstown, Alberta shares their passion for protecting, preserving and even improving the land. “As families that have a vested interest in our way of life, and a deep love and respect for the land that we live on, we realize the responsibility we carry to ensure biodiversity is maintained.  Increased biodiversity in rangelands increases many essential functions such as drought mitigation, improving water quality and quantity, and ensuring critical habitat for sensitive species.”

As Sasha notes in her essay, these stories “show us that family farmers, no matter where they live, can grow healthy and delicious food that’s also good for people, animals and our planet”.

Read both article’s in today’s Perspectives.

Today’s Featured Perspectives Essays

Submitted by Amy McMillen on September 22, 2014

By Amy McMillen, Partnerships and Outreach Coordinator, FAO-Washington, DC

Curated by the FAO Liaison Office for North America with the World Food Day NetworkPerspectives is an essay series that digs deeper into the annual World Food Day theme.  This year, read different points of view on the value and future of family farming from farmers, ranchers, and leaders in agriculture, research and economics.  Two essays will be featured daily starting September 15 through October 16, World Food Day.

We are now into week two of the Perspectives essay series and are taking a more focused look today at the family farmers around the world that grow cocoa. Caspar van Vark, freelance journalist and copywriter with The Guardian surprises us with some interesting statistics.  “Worldwide, 90% of cocoa is grown on small family farms of 1-5 hectares or less. Most of it comes from west Africa, with the Ivory Coast and Ghana cultivating more than half of the world crop.” Growing cocoa, however, is a precarious business for farmers.  Read Caspar’s essay to learn why.

Mario Isabel Taicigue is a cocoa farmer in the Rio San Juan region of Nicaragua. Despite the challenges in the cocoa industry, there are some positive changes, led not only by development groups, but as Caspar noted, even the chocolate industry itself.  Mario’s story demonstrates the kind of economic impact this can have for cocoa farmers.

Read both article’s in today’s Perspectives.



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