WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2014 – Stakeholders must move beyond debates about big vs. small, organic vs. conventional or low vs. high tech, according to a new set of consensus recommendations offered by AGree today. Instead, they should focus on outcomes like “reliable and consistent production of affordable, safe and nutritious food, healthy working lands and prosperous farms and communities.”

These and dozens of other recommendations - coming almost three years since the AGree initiative was launched in 2011 – will undoubtedly add to the debate about which directions lawmakers should turn for future farm and food policy decisions. Even though the 2014 farm bill has not yet been fully implemented, AGree hopes to start building support for these ideas by the time the next farm bill comes around in five years, both in the public and private sectors.

"We offer a compelling vision for the future of food and agriculture in the U.S. and around the world, as well as a range of strategies and recommendations for how to achieve it," said Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture and one of four AGree co-chairs.

And while there will be some opponents who believe the recommendations go too far, others will complain they don’t go nearly far enough.

For example, their new reports note that “we must fundamentally change how we think about health and its relationship to food and nutrition. The food and agriculture, anti-hunger, nutrition, education, and health communities at all levels must join together to reduce obesity and food insecurity and guide the country toward a healthier future.”

Another recommendation calls on the Secretary of Agriculture to strengthen the “N” (Nutrition) in SNAP and other federal food and nutrition programs.

For farmers, one goal calls for increasing continuous no-till, where compatible with regional farm and crop practices, by 50 percent and plant cover crops on 65 percent of annual row crop acreage to decrease soil degradation by 2025.

Another calls for reducing, by 30 percent, the number of rivers, lakes and streams currently designated as impaired because of legacy and current nutrient, pesticide and sediment runoff from cultivated cropland by 2025. 
"AGree's consensus recommendations will serve as roadmaps for action," said Deborah Atwood, AGree's Executive Director. She explained in a news release that, going forward, the group will be structured as an "initiative-focused and partner driven effort," working on both policy changes and private-sector actions.

One of the strengths of AGree is the diverse number of advisors who helped frame the recommendations, even though they may not each individually support each of the recommendations offered in their new reports. The AGree initiatives launched today are  Working Landscapes: Achieving Productivity, Profitability, and Environmental Outcomes; Food & Nutrition: Cultivating Healthy Communities; and  International Development: Promoting Development through Food and Agriculture. Immigration Reform: Achieving a Stable, Legal Workforce was launched earlier this year.

AGree is led by four Co – chairs, including Glickman, former Deputy Secretary Jim Moseley, Stonyfield Farm Chairman Gary Hirshberg and former USAID Assistant Administrator Emmy Simmons. The initiative is supported by nine foundations and a Research Committee comprised of distinguished scientists. For more information, go to: www.foodandagpolicy.org

This story was updated at 5:30 am.

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