As many of you know, New York Agri-Women will participate in the 54th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Particularly, I will represent NY Agri-Women as a panel member relating to the topic of: “Women’s’ Role in Food Security and Sustainable Development: Partnership between Rural and Urban Women”. This very broad topic, has led me to reach out to each of you, in search of a specific direction, one which may or may not represent our organization, and or the majority of women in agriculture.
Beginning a talk at the United Nations with a statement like: in order for women to strengthen their health and wealth, they must first reclaim the food system, is sure to be a popular statement amongst those who advocate for a locavor diet. The popularity will continue amongst those who subscribe to the theory that the so called western diet of the United States promotes lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and childhood obesity. Supporters will defend the statement with both economic and environmental statistics that a local food system is better for the rural economy. However, such a statement does not tell the story of how the changing structure of the food system has led to an abundant and efficient food system which has reduced agriculture’s environmental foot print.
U.S agriculture is by far the most developed in the entire world. Through our production efforts we provide food and fiber for the growing domestic and international markets, we supply the feedstock for an expanding bioenergy sector, and provides ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration to a nation increasingly concerned with the environment (Amberwaves, 2011). In part, it is because of US agriculture that the food needs of the world’s growing population will be met. With advanced technologies, America’s farmers are producing more than they were in the 60’s and 70’s. They are doing so with a renewed interest in social responsibility, food safety, and environmental stewardship. Finally, advances in marketing practices such as the use of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange allow farmers to build sophisticated models to assist them in taking the price risk out of agriculture. The combined practices of US farmers have led to efficient agricultural practices and lower global food costs for the consumer. Thus, one could argue that US production agriculture has created a global win-win situation for all, or has it?
Thus, I am reaching out to each of you and asking, what is our story? What is the story we want to tell about how we as American women involved in agriculture promote the food system of the United States? How do we teach our children and the consumers the importance of agriculture, foods and healthy diets? Are we truly environmentally friendly in our efforts to feed the world through our food system? This is our time to shine and tell our story. T he question is, what is the story we want to tell?