Day 1 Recap from 10th Annual Ag Issues Forum: “Feeding Imagination Today, Nourishing Tomorrow”

Thursday, February 26, 2015
10th Annual Ag Issues Forum

By: Jeff Donald


It was a sunny start to the 10th Annual Ag Issues Forum in Phoenix, AZ! Our speakers and panels have delivered challenging and thought-provoking conversation about the future of agriculture and food.


The theme of this year’s Ag Issues Forum is “Feeding Imagination Today, Nourishing Tomorrow”. The sessions from the first day touched on this topic from science literacy in grade schools to tweeting from Daddy’s tractor.


Head of Communications, Beth Roden kicked us off by taking us down memory lane of the last ten years. At the first Ag Issues Forum in 2005, smart phones, tablets, and social media were non-existent!


Then President and CEO Jim Blome shared stories about his upbringing in the state of Iowa, and encouraged the journalists in the room to keep sharing  agriculture stories with consumers. Jim also shared that his favorite way to spread messaging is through short and compelling video content. This fashion of story-telling grabs consumers’ attention and teaches them a lesson about the industry in less than two minutes.


We were lucky enough to  have a highly recognized and impressive key-note speaker, Dr. Mae Jemison – first African-American female astronaut and Making Science Make Sense advocate. Dr. Jemison related the theme “Feeding Imagination Today, Nourishing Tomorrow” to science literacy, hand-on youth education, and best of all creating the future.


Dr. Jemison also participated in her first ever reddit AMA – which you can view here. She received very intriguing and smart questions about science, career choices, space and education.


During the next session, “Millennial Perspectives on Food, Farming and Nutrition,” young professionals Ashley Reaver, Emily Best and Greg Peterson shared perspectives on how their generation views food, farming and nutrition. If you haven’t seen it already, check out this viral video Greg Peterson and his brothers produced, which led them to an almost overnight online success: I'm Farming and I Grow It. The video received more than six million views in two weeks.


Emily Best, apprentice organic farmer and market manager at New Morning Farm, shared why she “wanted to get her hands dirty” and learn more about the industry through hands on experiences. Ashley Reaver, lead nutrition science, shared insight on diet issues and how millennials differ from older generations. In reference to millennials following food trends, she commented, “We step in a puddle and we want people to know about it.” All three of the panelists shared a passion for educating consumers about the food and ag industry.


After the Millennial panel, Michael Rogers, author journalist and futurist, took the stage to discuss global trends driving food innovation. Rogers reminded the audience of how far technology has come, and how quickly it will continue to advance and evolve the food system.


Our last speaker, Thomas Latham, former U.S. representative, shared what is on the horizon for agriculture policy. Latham touched on labeling legislation, GMOs and pesticide use, demand for more data and tighter ingredient regulations. Latham stressed the importance of speaking up and making our voices hear about the challenges we face in agriculture.


Last but not least, I couldn’t forget to mention the announcement of our newest social media channel, Instagram, which was launched with no other photograph than a selfie with President and CEO Jim Blome and Frank Sesno – our incredible moderator and friend from George Washington University.

Jim Blome Selfie
Cheers from the 10th annual Ag Issues Forum!


Stayed tuned for the day two Ag Issues Forum recap and follow #AIF2015 on Twitter for live updates.






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