I wasn’t sure what to expect when I registered for the Global Agriculture Summit a couple of months ago. In fact, the only speaker mentioned at the time was the opening session plenary speaker, David Beckman, President of the Bread for the World Institute. But, I registered anyway, for two very important reasons.
First, I’m convinced the answers to global climate change, the reduction in the food producing capacity of the world, and the growing demand for food as the world’s population pushes toward 10 billion by 2050 lie in the hands of farmers. I’m aware that in parts of Africa, many people will die if the agriculture community fails to take the foundational knowledge we’ve developed and discovered regarding the improvement in soil health and make the information accessible and adaptable to those in desperate need.
Secondly, I feel a moral obligation to see the created world engaged in harmony with natural systems to affect positive change. This conference was about flourishing communities, not just maintaining the status quo.
Attendees included leaders in the faith community, missionary agencies (including co-host Partners Worldwide), scholars and lots of farmers from here in the U.S. and from 25 different countries around the world. Dr. Fred Kirschenmann was a keynote speaker, and he was supported by dozens of other speakers advocating specific farming practices as well as casting a vision for using agriculture to help people and the environment navigate the next 30 years. All told, this conference had about 500 people come together to promote farming as means of expressing our faith.