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Future of Food = Future of Ag

How the world views food and makes plans to feed people does affect agriculture. What does Food 2020 look like?
Food Web 2020
Institute For The Future, iStockPhoto

In the United States, the way consumers look at agriculture is not through the lens of a farmer or rancher but through the lens of feeding their family. Perceptions on how food is raised is not (normally) set by agriculture professionals but by media and marketing visuals and statements made by advocate organizations.

While farmers and ranchers may disagree with what the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have to say about agriculture, the reality is that most US consumers are influenced by what happens at the local level: What are Kroger and Target saying about agriculture through their food selection?

Over the past 60 years, we have seen radical transformations in our food system that have leveraged more specialized roles—more complex and connected relationships—to dramatically increase productive capacities. In the next decade, forces from environmental constraints to increased capacities of small-scale actors and communities will push toward more hybridized systems incorporating different values, practices, and demands.

What are those in agriculture to do? First step is to stay informed and understand food trends are developing. A good first stop is to look at the Institute For The Future's Food Web 2020.

The next step is to develop the local conversations with consumers about agriculture and how it plays an everyday part in food. Look to using the tools at hand to connect with people. Speak in person to local groups, connect on Facebook or Twitter, attend events and strike up a conversation.

The connection people make to food will evolve and change. New ideas and media images will always be developed. You can play a part but you have to jump in today to build up the conversations.

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