March 20, 2013
Greetings from our nation's Capitol where I've had the fascinating experience of joining a host of leaders representing agriculture and agribusiness in celebrating numerous Ag Day festivities.
First, our friends at Agri-Pulse sponsored a very insightful panel discussion featuring three accomplished economists sharing their predictions for the ag outlook in 2013. Two key take-aways: the global demand to feed a growing world population will continue to drive demand for our ag production. Secondly, here at home the interest in food and its sources, preparation and quality continues to grow in importance and popularity. I was surprised to learn that nearly half of all meals are consumed out of home and that there are nearly one million restaurants now existing in the U.S. today.
Overall, these economists agree, the ag outlook continues to be bright, of course, assuming that weather and world economics/politics remain stable. Over 300 people attended the Agri-Pulse event and it was great to see some familiar faces as well as make some new connections.
I also had the good fortune to attend “The New Language of Food and Modern Agriculture,” a very impressive presentation by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance. New consumer research was presented that indicates consumers are more concerned and more vocal about their food choices than ever before. This research also indicates that our ag industry has a lot of work to do in better communicating with consumers to directly and transparently address their concerns regarding food safety and quality, animal welfare and environmental issues.
Fortunately, the Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, made up of over 80 different ag producers organizations, is listening and responding to these consumer concerns about their food sources. It's good to see so many diverse producer groups band together with a common purpose, to proactively and carefully listen to consumer concerns and engage in an on-going dialogue. It's healthy for both consumers of food and producers of food to reach a higher level of understanding and engagement.
Finally, I attended the 40th annual Ag Day banquet, sponsored in part by the National Agri-Marketing Association (NAMA), held at the U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was the keynote speaker. He provided some interesting statistics indicating what a low overall percentage of the total USDA budget deals directly with agricultural production and research.
I have to say that I'm a little embarrassed that after a 35-year career in agri-marketing, this is the first National Ag Day celebration that I've attended. It's been a tremendous learning experience and so enjoyable to re-connect with many ag professionals in our industry.
I highly recommend that everyone in our industry should invest the time and effort to participate in National Ag Day activities.
My only wish is that I had made this trip sooner!
Ag Day on Capitol Hill
U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance Capitol Hill Briefing on the New Language of Food and Modern Agriculture
Orion Samuelson introduces Congressman Frank Lucas, Oklahoma, Chairman of the Agriculture Committee