The CEO of seed and chemical giant Corteva Agriscience believes farmers must play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and says he's working with other companies as well as academics and non-governmental organizations to address the climate issue. 

Jim Collins, speaking at the National Press Club, disclosed that he would be meeting with other company executives on the sidelines of the World Food Prize events in Des Moines, Iowa, next month.

“An integral part of the mission of Corteva is to use our convening power within our industry and across the entire food value chain to help bring about more sustainable and more collaborative solutions,” Collins said. 

“For too long, the conversation around climate change has taken place in echo chambers: Businesses talking to business leaders, regulators talking to regulators, scientists, just talking to scientists and NGOs, with other NGOs. It turns out all of us are part of the solution here.” 

A spokesman for Corteva, which was created from the merger of DuPont and Dow agriculture divisions, declined to provide details on the meeting, describing it as a private affair. 

Collins said that while “no industry has been impacted more by climate change than the agriculture,” he was optimistic that farmers could reduce greenhouse gas emissions through new crop traits, precision agriculture and improved farming practices. The industry needs to “work smarter, more efficiently, and with a smaller carbon footprint,” he said. 

He said the progress that farmers have made in protecting the Chesapeake Bay from runoff demonstrates their capability to reduce their environmental footprint. The use of cover crops and other practices is “having a very positive impact on farmers businesses, but also the very fragile Chesapeake Bay ecosystem,” he said. 

Farmers there are “making more profits off of their farm than from the old way they were farming before they put these new systems in place," and that outcome illustrates the importance of educating growers on new technologies and practices, he said. 

While emphasizing the need for agriculture to reduce its carbon footprint, Collins steered clear of endorsing recommendations for consumers to reduce meat consumption as a way to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and poultry production. 

“We can all align with the fact that reducing greenhouse gases is the key to improving any issues associated with climate change. Then let’s have the innovation industry focus on how do we eliminate greenhouse gases rather than tell populations around the world what food they should eat,” he said. 

He said that 2019 has demonstrated the resiliency of U.S. farmers in the face of the “absolute worst start” to a plantings season in 150 years of recordkeeping. “It was the latest, wettest, coldest start to a year,” he said. 

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