Council Talks Tech, Trade In UN Food Systems Summit Process

The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) is working with sister organizations and coalitions to engage in the coming United Nations (UN) Food System Summit, offering lessons learned about the importance of technology and trade to global food security and sustainability gained over six decades of work developing global markets for U.S. feed grains.

The Summit’s main event is scheduled for September in New York City, with a pre-Summit in July in Rome. In the lead up to the Summit, organizers are soliciting input from governments, farmer groups, consumer organizations, non-profit organizations, individuals and others in a series of dialogues and discussions.

Hundreds of pre-Summit events are generating input for the process, including one last week at which Chip Councell, the current president of MAIZALL and past USGC chairman, shared his experience as a farmer on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

MAIZALL – the international maize alliance that includes USGC, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and producer groups in Brazil and Argentina – helped develop the event sponsored by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). Sergio Bortolozzo, another MAIZALL leader from Brazil, also spoke at the event.

“As a farmer, my first priority is to be a reliable supplier of a competitive product at a reliable price and produce it in a responsible manner,” Councell said. “We need to take care of our family and the farms. I truly believe as farmers we have a responsibility to take care of the land, and I’ve often said, other than my family, there is nothing I treasure more than my farm.”

Led by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the totality of the Summit process aims to elevate the public discussion about reforming the world food system through a series of integrated Action Tracks aligned with the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

USGC and partners, including the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), are focused on food security through technology and trade – a critical component of the Council’s mission. Organizations like USGC have shown over the course of decades that building partnerships can help build economies and secure food supplies.

The Council believes that giving farmers in developing nations access to improved agricultural and plant technology can significantly increase crop yields, science-based decision-making and robust global trade.

Councell, who has hosted dozens of trade teams from across the world on his farm to talk about U.S. agriculture, discussed these topics at the IICA event.

“By using newer technology like integrated pest management practices and precision farming, we’re able to determine problems in lower-yielding areas to increase our yield in the future. Not only that, we can be true stewards of the land through conservation for future generations,” he said.

The Council has partnered with several coalitions of like-minded organizations to participate in FSS discussions. In addition to work with NCGA and other U.S.-based organizations, USGC serves on the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) main body and governing council. USGC has previously worked with PSM to develop a position paper on science-based decision-making for improved agricultural processes for the Summit.

USGC is also a member of MAIZALL and the International Agri-Food Network (IAFN), the elected coordinating group of PSM. IAFN is leading high-level dialogues exploring FSS topics before the Summit, and MAIZALL leaders have or will participate in additional dialogues in the run-up to the Summit, including one on farming and gender.