DES MOINES, Oct. 16, 2013 – Jeffery Simmons, senior vice president and executive officer at Eli Lilly and Company and President of Elanco’s Animal Health Division, received this year’s Borlaug CAST Communication Award at an awards ceremony in Des Moines today.
The award, presented prior to the opening of the World Food Prize, is given annually to an agricultural or food professional “for contributing to the advancement of science in the public policy arena.”
Simmons’ work focuses on food security, and he is known throughout the industry as an engaging public speaker. His oft-repeated points have proven popular within the agriculture and food industries: Solving the world’s food insecurity problems, he says, is good business.
“I think there needs to be collaboration between public and private in government,” Simmons said during a press availability. “We must be able to look at innovation that creates value for farmers and the food chain all over the world.”
Simmons says he goal is a world in which “food is a non-issue.”
The Elanco official’s latest effort, a report released during the ceremony, points to a growing global demand for food. But Simmons says he believes the solutions to that demand already exist – they lie in much discussed issues like agricultural research and trade development.
Private investment in agriculture research is up, said Land O’Lakes President and CEO Chris Policinski during a roundtable following the award’s presentation. But much of that research “stands on the shoulders of public investment,” which is down. Indeed, Policinski said, public investment is often more important because it supports longer-term projects – projects whose scope allow the most profound scientific breakthroughs.
Policinski and fellow panelists Simmons and National Council of Farmer Cooperatives’ (NCFC) Chuck Connor asked audience members to push for increased funding in agricultural research in this time of farm bill uncertainty. Those dollars, they argued, could make a serious difference in spurring life saving and money making innovation.
And in ridding developing countries of food insecurity, participants said, U.S. agriculture also fosters emerging markets.
Simmons also used his address to push for a renewed communication effort on the part of agriculture and food industries.
“We need to engage, even though it’s a little uncomfortable,” he said.
“If we don’t engage, we will be defined by others,” Policinski added.
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