Borlaug Dialogue…..it’s more than just the World Food Prize!

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Yesterday I attended The Iowa Hunger Summit in Des Moines, which is part of the activities of the World Food Prize. The event was presented by the Iowa Farm Bureau and packed with many meetings by many groups. It began with Kenneth M. Quinn, who is always entertaining with a great sense of humor.

The next hour was filled with experience! Five former USDA Secretaries, Tom Vilsack, Dan Glickman, Ann Veneman, Ed Schafer, and my favorite……Mike Johanns, had a lively discussion mainly about SNAP. Formerly known as food stamps. SNAP is part of the Farm Bill……..a big part. Almost 3/4ths of the bill goes towards feeding the “food insecure”.  A big part of the discussion was how do you define “food insecure”, and is this the way to solve the problem. All former USDA Secretaries did agree that it does need to remain a part of the Farm Bill.

The noon luncheon speaker was Diana Aviv, CEO of Feeding America, which is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. The meal was one of the packaged meals that are shipped to people in need. Some information she shared was about how your purchasing of food may become more efficient. She spoke of Amazon buying Whole Foods and how brick & mortar stores may be a thing of the past. She stated that you may be able to order your food from your smartphone and have it delivered by a drone or a driverless delivery vehicle. But here is my thought, which I may talk about in another blog, is that one of the biggest obstacles is the ability to purchase food if we eliminate jobs, as we have been doing with automation and technology. New jobs must be created. We tend to forget that building a brick & mortar store brings much economic activity.

This week will be filled, for the next four days, with many meetings discussing food. I am going to attend as many meetings as possible! I am attending as the Iowa lead farmer for The Farm Journal Foundations Farm Team to eliminate world food insecurity, as a Farm Bureau member, and also as an Iowa farmer.

I think it’s appropriate that as Iowa farmers, and farmers across the nation, are harvesting their crops, the World Food Prize is taking place this week in Des Moines, Iowa.