Feed Bites

How One Person Continues to Inspire Big Ideas

Written by: Rob Cooper   |   November 5, 2020

Environmental footprint, Our role in ag, IFEEDER

We’ve all read the studies that say in order to stay on top of our game, we must make time to reflect, relax and recharge. We must continue to read and learn new things and connect with those who inspire and challenge us. For me, I have made a point of taking time every year to do just that – by participating in the World Food Prize.

If you want to be inspired about the future of global agriculture, then this is the place to be each October. One is surrounded by some of the best and brightest minds from around the world who are dedicated to feeding the world and improving the sustainability of global food systems. This year was no exception. Besides its virtual format, the conference exuded energy, connectedness and awe-inspiring work that was shared by attendees.

In 1970, Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in global agriculture. Dr. Borlaug developed many new wheat varieties that were disease resistance and were easily adapted to a great variety of growing conditions around the world. These new varieties of wheat were also able to produce a high yield.  These new wheat varieties and improved crop management practices transformed agricultural production in Mexico during the 1940's and 1950's and later in Asia and Latin America, sparking what today is known as the "Green Revolution."

In 1986, the World Food Prize was created to realize his dream of an award that would honor the men and women who have made significant contributions to feeding the world.

This year as I listened in on presentations that ranged from sustainability, climate change, soil and water health to nutrition, I was inspired but also challenged to think about the role that the Institute for Feed Education and Research plays in advancing the sustainability of agriculture.

The mission at IFEEDER has been to be the champion of the animal feed industry and while that will always be true, I began to think about how we can aggressively expand our point of view and capacity to impact the animal food industry in other real and meaningful ways. Maybe we need to expand our vision of who we are and what we can accomplish. For example, can we see ourselves as a driving force in supporting sustainable food systems? Should we embrace the idea of scaling our capacity to truly take on opportunities that innovate change in sustainable feed production? How do we create a sense of urgency that compels donors, funders, researchers and others to invest in the needs and innovations of the animal feed industry? Where will the next generation of farmers, feed industry workers and agriculture scientists be inspired and cultivated? Will answering these questions help fill knowledge gaps and provide consumers with information to make more informed decisions and more importantly, will it help grow their trust in the animal protein sector of agriculture?

I’d love to know what you think. As Norman Borlaug once said, “Everything else can wait. Agriculture can’t.” Please leave me your thoughts in the comments below. 

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