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It’s time that food and agriculture systems get the attention they need. Across all industries, food can be the solution to our biggest social, environmental, and economic challenges.
With a new coalition called Forum for Farmers and Food Security, we’re really proud of the way we can leverage financial partnerships to support producers; farmers; the folks who are doing the real work on the ground—in the ground!—every day.
I’ll repeat this as many times as I need to: We have to invest not only for profit but for people and the planet, too. We need to make sure that motto is central to how money is pledged, spent, and invested in the food system—a very literal sense of investing in our future.
The Forum for Farmers and Food Security is guided by several important principles that have long been central to Food Tank’s work, too. First and foremost, we have to invest in women and youth, honor Indigenous and traditional knowledge systems, and support small-scale and family producers. True Cost Accounting, which calls for measuring not just the direct costs of food production but also its impact on communities and the environment, is also core to the Forum’s work.
Because here’s the thing: In addition to making change in the investment and finance sectors, we also need corporate buyers and procurement managers to engage more directly in sustainable purchasing and supply chain development. We need retailers, big brands, and influential institutions to step up, too.
Being a small-scale producer is risky. There’s so much vulnerability—from extreme weather events to political conflicts to supply chain issues. Farmers and their families put so much work, time, effort, and passion into producing food—and do not even always have a guaranteed market.
And there’s also opportunity: Through sustainability-focused investment, we can help increase producers’ resilience, lower the risk of innovation, and ultimately help them adopt more regenerative practices. We can connect farmers with data and technology, and help boost climate literacy. We can increase reliable market access for producers, so they have more bargaining power and economic security.
Our partners in the Forum for Farmers and Food Security are exciting, too. Pegasus Capital was doing impact investing before that concept really existed—they were the first U.S. private equity firm to be accredited by the Green Climate Fund, and founder Craig Cogut’s vision is to integrate social and environmental factors into investing. And Producers Trust, founded by Keith Agoada, is a network of producers across the globe helping to create links between markets and help food suppliers work together more efficiently.
And I’m proud that Food Tank can continue to help guide different sectors toward a stronger understanding of the power of food systems. As universities focus more on food chains, professors are sharing best practices in Food Tank’s Academic Working Group. Business leaders in Food Tank’s Chief Sustainability Officer network and tech innovators in our Refresh Working Group are working to make meaningful changes in their industries, too.
Next week, I’ll be in Washington, D.C., at a summit put on by the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, also called AIM for Climate or AIM4C. The initiative is a joint project by the United States and the United Arab Emirates in the leadup to COP28, the next U.N. climate change conference, which will be held this November in Dubai.
At AIM4C, the Forum for Farmers and Food Security will be involved in discussions on how we can spur improvements in procurement and purchasing commitments, develop new partnerships, and truly benefit producers with shared knowledge and data around sustainability.
During the summit, the Forum is also convening a special bipartisan luncheon on Capitol Hill focused on tangible actions we can take for food system transformation, which I’m particularly looking forward to. We’ve got an incredible lineup of speakers planned that we’ll be announcing soon—policy leaders, private sector innovators, food advocates—all focused on spotlighting and really solidifying the links between food security and climate resilience.
The Forum for Farmers and Food Security is just getting started—and we have plenty of work to do. I had the opportunity to talk more in-depth with Craig Cogut from Pegasus Capital and Keith Agoada from Producers Trust this week on the Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg podcast, and I hope you’ll give the episode a listen HERE to continue the conversation.
And as always, please share your thoughts with me at email@example.com. I hope to be Food Tankers’ representatives in each of these conversations, and I always appreciate hearing what that means to you.
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Photo courtesy of Shayan Ghiasvand, Unsplash