On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Erin Fitzgerald, CEO of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA), talks about the alliance’s new direction: not only bolstering the image of agriculture and supporting farmers, but also addressing sustainability and education in agriculture. “We created a forum where we are… figuring out the collective things that we can do together to advance sustainable food systems,” says Fitzgerald. “We really want to figure out the role of agriculture in the future of food systems—which we know has not been really well understood.”
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While agriculture can often seem like a contributor to climate change, Fitzgerald believes that farmers are the solution to protecting the planet. “If you truly believe in climate change, you have to believe that every farmer is stewarding something on their farm. I can think of no other sector that has the potential to be change-makers more than farmers,” says Fitzgerald. U.S. farmers lose 175 acres of farmland every hour; each farmer is invested in the vitality of their land, caring for each acre the best ways they know how. For the future of farmland and the climate, “farmers really do care,” says Fitzgerald.
“But every acre is so unique, and every farmer is so unique. We need to think of them like we do chefs—I wouldn’t walk into any restaurant and not expect it to all be super different,” says Fitzgerald. Although farmers have different opinions of the farming techniques needed to create a sustainable industry, it is simply important that every farmer moves forward. “We work for all farmers: it takes all farms for a better future. There’s no one type of farming. We’re learning from all these different practices and science all the time. All doors are open,” says Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald encourages consumers to keep their minds open to collaborating toward goals with farmers who may hold differing opinions or use seemingly controversial farming practices. “Everyone needs to learn a little bit from farmers. Get your boots dirty. Talk to farmers,” says Fitzgerald.