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Food for Thought: A Call to Action on the Future of Sustainable Agriculture

The United States enjoys one of the most abundant, diverse, safe, and affordable food supplies in the world. American consumers on average spend just 9.9 percent of their income on food. The ability to produce and deliver a diverse and economical food supply is due in large part to a history of U.S. innovation and ingenuity that begins on the farm and extends through the food and agriculture value chain.

With global population growth anticipated to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, competition for land use will intensify and finite natural resources will increasingly be strained. According to the Global Harvest Initiative, agricultural yields must double by 2050 to meet population demands. This population growth is happening in the face of slowing productivity improvements in developed countries and productivity stagnation in the lowest-income countries.

Food and agriculture producers are increasingly challenged to minimize environmental impacts, use fewer resources, and continue to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing costs. The population and resource challenges are exacerbated by changing climate and weather extremes as well as water scarcity, which further strain global food and agriculture supply chains. There is a clear need to produce and deliver enough food for a growing population while addressing local environmental issues, like soil health and water quality, and mitigating and adapting to climate change. To address these complex problems and meet increased global demands for food, governments at all levels must work collaboratively with all stakeholders in the food and agriculture value chain, including nongovernmental organizations.

The CEO Council on Sustainability and Innovation recognizes that the U.S. food and agriculture industry has a long record of innovation and sustainability. But as these challenges evolve, the industry can and must do more to address food security, increase resilience of food and agriculture systems, and improve sustainability. Through collective actions, continuous advances in innovation, and more collaborative decision making, the council is working together to share concrete successes to inspire other companies across the food supply chain to take action.

This report highlights concrete actions our companies are taking to continuously address new and changing threats to food security and sustainability. The objective of sharing these success stories is to inspire other companies to take bold actions to boost innovation and foster public-private partnerships. Sustainability is a journey brought to life through action and partnership, and we hope others in the food and agriculture supply chain will join us in this critical endeavor.

The CEO Council on Sustainability and Innovation is led by Kellogg Company Chairman and CEO John A. Bryant, DuPont Executive Vice President Jim Collins, Hormel Foods Chairman and CEO Jeffery Ettinger,  Land O’Lakes President and CEO Chris Policinski, and Elanco President Jeff Simmons.

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