WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2012 – Cargill President and CEO Gregory Page asked the agricultural industry to “do more with less” in his keynote speech today at the Business Horizon: Agriculture conference at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It’s an ambitious goal that Page argued could be accomplished through a mélange of tax reform, biotechnology, and better agricultural messaging.
“We need to create more food with less soil erosion, more to eat with less waste…more food for the world with less inputs,” Page told the assembled audience of agriculture professionals.
Page’s talk centered on “the tyranny of the ‘or,’” a phrase borrowed from the businessman and best-selling author Jim Collins. Page argued that that many industries believe success only comes from trade-offs—sustainable practices or increased revenues, profit or innovation.
But Page believes that ag can have it all.
He fingered inhospitable tax policies as a major source of strife in the sector. “Tax policies determine where capital goes…[and] today, the US has an outdated tax code,” he said. “This country is no longer the default place to headquarter” multinational corporations, because of the tax burdens placed on foreign companies that hope to settle here, he argued.
“We need to apply genius of the ‘and’” – rather than the “or” - “to fix our budget issues,” Page said.
Farmers also need to work on messaging, Page said. He cited the “pink slime” frenzy earlier this year as an example of agriculture making innovative food system decisions without educating the consumers. “That was a great wakeup call,” he said. “The work of innovation is not done until communication is complete.”
“We need to be willing to listen, to learn, to innovate,” Page concluded – only then can agriculture “get to the ‘and.’”