Global Challenges Seminar Addresses World Hunger Issues

Aug 7th, 2017

Category: Class of 2018

Global Challenges Seminar Addresses World Hunger Issues

As politics, trade, and social issues continue to evolve around the globe; they also continue to affect agricultural production and agribusiness.  The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2018 recently investigated major issues of concern around the world – including hunger, food security, and trade.  The GROWMARK Global Challenges Seminar was held in Chicago and included presentations by 11 speakers.  The IALP is sponsored by the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF).

What are the challenges of international production and trade?  How do managers build a global workforce and retain the culture of a company?  How are projects and people managed thousands of miles away? How does a company recruit and retain a global workforce? How can U.S. agriculture help farmers, the agriculture infrastructure and food security in developing countries?

Mary Boote Roth, Chief Executive Office of the Global Farmer Network, began the seminar by discussing “The Farmer’s Voice in the Dialogue on Food and Nutritional Security.”  She highlighted the importance of farmers from around the world coming together to communicate their views on crop technology and food security.  World Food Prize Laureate and Distinguished Fellow with the Chicago Council for Global Affairs, Catherine Bertini, spoke to the class about “Making Sense of the World – and Why We Should Care.”  Dr. Bertini brought forward her perspective as former Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program.

Catherine Bertini, World Food Prize Laureate and former Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Program, discusses approaches to global leadership and food security during the GROWMARK Global Challenges Seminar.

A deep discussion of trade concluded the first day during the afternoon sessions.  Ron Gray, a farmer from Claremont, Illinois, and a member of the USDA Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee presented the class with perspectives on United States agricultural trade and our involvement in bilateral and regional agreements.  Philip Levy, Senior Fellow on Global Economy with the Chicago Council for Global Affairs, then continued the discussion with a presentation on “Challenges to Global Trade in the Age of Trump.”

The second and final day of the seminar shifted focus to a global perspective on agriculture production and world hunger.  Following a review of the book The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change by author and former Wall Street Journal columnist Roger Thurow, the IALP Class of 2018 was privileged to hear from Thurow in person.  Thurow, a Senior Fellow for Global Food and Agriculture with the Chicago Council for Global Affairs, discussed his experience writing the book about four farmers in Kenya growing food for their families’ consumption while facing hunger when the harvest from last season was consumed before the next harvest was ready.

Roger Thurow, author of The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, signs his book and engages with Tasha Bunting, IALP Class of 2018.

Dr. Diana Horvath, President & Director of 2Blades Foundation, followed that discussion with a presentation on “Putting Science Into Action for Global Food Security,” which outlined efforts to combat world hunger by eliminating crop disease that affects small-holder farmers.  Dr. Horvath was then joined by Amy Bradford, GROWMARK Corporate Relations Manager and manager of the GROWMARK Foundation, and Morgan Dawson, Sales Presentative for Dow AgroSciences LLC, for a panel discussion on “The Role of the Nonprofit & NGO” which highlighted each group’s efforts to provide agricultural development and support to those small-holder farmers around the globe.

Participants heard from IALP alumni Norbert Soltwedel (Class of 1984), a farmer from Shumway, and Matt Wiebers (Class of 2006), consulting agronomist and owner of CropCentric LLC, about the various methods in which they can volunteer and be involved in global efforts to support farmers and end world hunger.  Each alumnus shared his personal experiences and perspectives about volunteer opportunities and how to engage with other cultures.

The seminar concluded with a presentation on “Taking Philanthropy Personally” from Marilyn Foster Kirk, CFRE and Executive Vice President of Ter Molen Watkins & Brandt LLC.  Kirk challenged class members to think about their values and passions, and how they can channel those into a personal, intentional approach to both local and global philanthropic efforts.

“We are involved in global agriculture every day via trade and food aid provided to other countries, and this seminar provides excellent perspectives on issues facing farmers not only in the United States but all around the world,” said Don Norton, IALF President & CEO. “We’re grateful to our sponsor, GROWMARK, for its continued support of our program and focus on developing global leaders.”

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