Day 2 Recap Ag Issues Forum: Feeding Today, Nourishing Tomorrow

Thursday, March 5, 2015
10th Annual Ag Issues Forum

By: Jeff Donald


On behalf of Bayer CropScience, I’d like to thank everyone for a successful 10th Annual Ag Issues Forum! A special thank you goes out to our speakers and moderator, Frank Sesno.


Day two of Ag Issues Forum kicked off with an inspiring talk from former NFL player (and fellow Tar Heel) Jason Brown.  In 2012, Jason Brown decided to take a leap of faith and walked away from the football field and instead towards the farm field. He purchased a 1,000-acre farm in Louisburg, North Carolina. Currently, Brown is a successful farmer who gives back to his community. This past year, his farm yielded about 120,000 sweet potatoes from five acres of land (aka five football fields), which were given to food pantries and churches throughout the local Triangle area. Be sure to check out his site at


Up next was a panel session, with Dr. Jennifer Walker, director of dairy steward ship at Dean Foods, Dan Probert, owner at Probert Ranch and board member of Global Animal Partnership, and John Butler, CEO Beef Marketing Group, to discuss how consumer demands affect the ag supply chain.  Each panelist came with a unique point of view, however, all panelist agreed, the biggest trend to look out for is sustainability and transparency around it.


Water is always a huge topic of conversation at Ag Issues Forum. Four panelists from different agriculture backgrounds participated: Bill Hohenstein, director, Climate Change Program Office, USDA; Larry Clemens, interim North American ag director, The Nature Conservancy; David Modeer, general manager, Central Arizona Project; and Jay Hill, farmer and owner of Hill Farms. The water supply issue continues to be a balance between the government and farms working together to find solutions to mitigate drought as well as water abundance.


After a short break for interviews, Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, and Frank Sesno discussed the role of food in social justice. Food Tank is a fairly new organization that focuses on building a global community for safe, healthy and nourished eaters. Danielle’s story and thoughts provided a slightly different perspective than other panel discussions, which garnered interesting questions and dialogue throughout the room.


It wouldn’t be Ag Issues Forum without technology being a huge topic of conversation. Four panelists came together to discuss how this affects the different aspects of their agriculture business: Bryan Boll, Minnesota farmer and 2014 Young Farmer Sustainability Award Winner; Matt Rohilk, farmer and integrated solutions manager, Haug Implement Co.; Robert Colangelo, owner, Green Sense Farms; Arama Kukutal, managing partner, Finistere Ventures. It is safe to say that they all agreed on at least two things: technology is making the industry more efficient in more than one way and millennials play an important role in the field when working with technology.


As the day was wrapping up, we recognized the 2015 Young Farmer Sustainability Award winner, Andrew Fansler, and the Bayer CropScience Produce Innovation Award winner, Chalmers Carr. Congratulations again to you both and thank you for doing your part to continue to use innovation and technology to keep your farming practices sustainable.


Finally, VP Marketing, David Hollinrake wrapped us up with the call to action to marry intellectual and emotional conversations to make common ground. Events like Ag Issues Forum are a great reminder that conversations with the same end goal are the most productive, and information sharing and education are key!


Thanks to all of our media attendees for joining us this week and a special thanks goes to all of the great speakers and panelists for sharing their wealth of knowledge and perspectives.


Now begins the countdown to Ag Issues Forum 2016! You can see all the dialogue and insight from Ag Issues Forum by following #AIF2015 on Twitter.





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