Food Dialogues Talk About Sustainability (3 of 4)

USFRA held a four part panel discussion to inform the public on food and agriculture. In the third panel, they discussed how to use school lunch programs to reach out and educate people on where their food comes from.

Published on: Sep 22, 2011

U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance launched The Food Dialogues – a new effort to bring together different viewpoints on farming and ranching and the future of food to help solve problems and get some answers to some very important questions.

In the third panel, at Robert Mondavi Institute at University of California Davis in Davis, Calif., panelists touched on the topics of farming, ranching and sustainability. And is it getting better or worse? Different types of farming were discussed regarding conventional to organic, and natural to free range.

TALKING FOOD: The four-part Food Dialogues were the first of their kind and will continue in the future.
TALKING FOOD: The four-part Food Dialogues were the first of their kind and will continue in the future.

Research shows that 99% of farmers say protecting the environment is an important goal while only 41% of consumers are concerned over insecticides and pesticides.  

Organic production methods are very knowledge intensive; however there is a disadvantage of not being able to use certain technologies. "Production of food is a biological process, yet we utilize industrial terminology," Michael Dimock, president of Roots of Change.  

Some of the scariest things in food are all natural, according to Dr. Neal Van Alfen, UC Davis. "We set up values on natural and organic, but nature is scary as well!" Van Aften said.

GOP must be in front of handling better regulations, and not fall behind the issue when dealing with food regulations within processing.  

Regulation is a huge discussion. There are numerous people that can shut down production each and every day.

Rick Stott, executive vice president for Agri Beef Co., says, "We spend $1.8 million a year just complying with regulations. Our biggest daily risk is not markets, but our own government."

Another hot topic covered by the Food Dialogues was how to use school lunch programs to help educate students and parents on how food is grown. "School lunch is a great tool to use, the future needs to know where and how their food is being produced," Dimrock said.