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Ag Secretaries ask farmers to help in fight against hunger

Five former agriculture secretaries call upon farmers to help address food insecurity.

Former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Dan Glickman, Ann Veneman, Mike Johanns and Ed Schafer participated in a roundtable discussion at the Iowa Hunger Summit Monday. The secretaries discussed nutrition and food security.

Secretary Johanns says farmer’s creativity plays a role when combating hunger.

“Individual farmers must become more thoughtful and creative in product development, process development, how they better use fertilizer, how they bring technology to bear, and fertilizer and pesticide decisions,” Johanns said. “They need to be more creative in how they fund the things they need to do to get better at what they do.”

Secretary Glickman thinks future changes to production will help immensely.

“In the next 10 or 20 years, farmers are going to be producing differently than they use too. Its not going to be just mono-crop agriculture like in my state. Farmers are going to be able to produce a lot of fruits and vegetables, in addition to row crops. That’s going to change distribution patterns in the United States,” Glickman said.

However, Secretary Schafer believes the fight against hunger goes beyond distribution.

“A billion people in the world are undernourished and five-million kids in the world die each year because they don’t have enough to eat,” Schafer said. “American agriculture provides enough nutrition, over 3,000 calories per person, per day, to keep people nourished. Yet, we don’t get it done. It’s not a production issue. It’s a policy issue, directional issue.”

Schafer believes farmers already produce enough to feed the world, but encourages them, as individuals, to become involved in farm organizations. By becoming involved in farm organizations, farmers can further help the fight and push for change in policy.

“People from North Dakota are involved in farm organization. They get national chairs in those organizations and influence policy on agriculture. The individual farmer needs to create, be involved and seek positions in which they have an opportunity to influence agricultural affairs,” Schafer said.

There was no comment from former Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack because he had to catch a plane.