USSEC Participates in EXPO Sustainability Event
USSEC participated in a sustainability event, held at the Milan EXPO USA Pavilion in Italy on July 3. The USA Pavilion showcases the idea “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet,” and spotlights American leadership on issues such as food security and policy, technology, nutrition and health, and culinary culture. Over 140 countries are participating in Milan EXPO 2015, and more than 20 million people are expected to visit before the World’s Fair concludes in October 2015. The USA Pavilion, which focuses on the United States as an innovator not only in the food sector, but also in many aspects of culture, science, and business, has already registered more than one million visitors.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack gave the keynote address at the “U.S. Sustainability: This is How We Grow” event, which was sponsored by the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Rome Country Strategy Support Fund (CSSF), and was attended by a select group of 40-50 representatives from the agri-food sector, other EXPO Pavilions, non-profit organizations, and U.S., Italian, and EU officials. The event featured an expert panel representing the U.S. dairy, soybean, organic and fishery sectors.
Secretary Vilsack spoke on the topic “How We Grow for the Future” and noted “U.S. agriculture has a positive story to tell on sustainability…We have a long-standing commitment to conservation. We also promote research and education for sustainable agriculture. With the global focus on climate impacts on agriculture and food security, the United States is now also committed to implementing climate smart agriculture principles.” He added that “it will take as much innovation, science, research, and technology over the next 35 years as in the last 10,000 years.” Secretary Vilsack outlined the U.S. sustainability and climate-smart agriculture efforts to date and argued for more research and development as well as policies based on science. He stated that sustainability must not only be about environmental sustainability but also about economic sustainability, which includes supporting diversity in methods of production and all types of farmers.
USSEC senior technical consultant David Green’s presentation on the Sustainability Alliance framed the discussion by introducing the initiative and describing some of the underlying EU perceptions about U.S. agriculture and the theme of sustainability. Mr. Green explained how the United States has been on the forefront of sustainable farming practices ever since the dustbowl in the 1930s and that now more than ever the U.S. government has laws and programs in place to support and defend good farming practices.
USSEC vice chairman and ASA director Jim Miller’s “This is How We Grow” presentation provided a practical example of a fourth generation farmer from Nebraska who has been using sustainable farming practices on his farm for years. He discussed how sustainable farming is a way of life for him and his peers because farmers care about the future. Crop rotation improves diversity and reduces inputs, while also meeting customer demands and improving profitability. By using biotechnology, Mr. Miller has managed to reduce the amount of crop protection agents used, and by employing sustainable farming practices he has not tilled since 1996, which has resulted in fuel savings, increased organic matter of soil and decreased soil erosion.