World ag leaders meet to discuss increasing food production while reducing emissions

Sustainability and rural infrastructure are not just buzzwords in American agriculture. They are dominating discussions as ag leaders from around the world gather in Italy for the two day G20 Summit.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is there and here are his thoughts so far.

How to increase food production while reducing emissions is one of the key themes of the G20 Summit this week. Secretary Vilsack says that the U.S. will continue to prioritize science.

According to the Secretary, “Sustainable productivity growth requires, first and foremost, an investment in agricultural research and development, designed to promote the most efficient and to identify climate smart use of natural resources in agriculture. We see the necessity of leveraging evidence-based innovation and science, which would include gene editing, biotechnology, and things of that nature.”

He says that they are also working to expand domestic and international markets for commodities produced in a sustainable way, including bio-based products.

“We look forward to the day when we have trade agreements that remove unfair barriers to trade and rein in the most distorting and environmentally damaging subsidies,” Vilsack states. “Right now, we recognize that many countries share our goals for sustainable and climate smart agriculture, and it’s critical that we encourage the development of markets for these products and guard against trade barriers.”

Later, on a call with reporters, he shared his perspective on some of the conversations happening at the event.

“I was pleased to see that there was an acknowledgment by many of the speakers of the significant role that renewable energy will play and needs to play as part of the rural infrastructure for a more sustainable agriculture system. A recognition that energy produced on farms and for farms can help reduce costs and also can increase potential income,” he explained.

He also announced a new coalition on sustainable productivity growth, which Brazil has already expressed interest in joining.

“I think there is a concern in many parts of the world that sustainable agriculture could result in a reduction in productivity,” he adds. “I think we’re pushing back on that notion. We believe that actually a more sustainable agriculture can also be a more productive agriculture and can in fact meet the needs and demands of a growing global population.”

While other countries discussed mandatory conservation policies, Vilsack reiterated his intention to promote voluntary initiatives that include research, education, and incentives.


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