Increasing transparency through food dialogues

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On Nov. 15, farmers, ranchers, industry professionals and media experts took the stage for in-depth conversations on food and food production. The dialogue was broken into three separate topics, each with five to seven different expert panelists. Topics for the three discussions included Media, Marketing and Healthy Choices; Antibiotics and Your Food; Biotechnology (GMO’s) and Your Food. All three were moderated by Ali Velshi, CNN Chief Business Correspondent and anchor of Your Money on CNN and World Business Today on CNN International and each segment is approximately one and a half hours in length.

The dialogues took place two weeks ago at the Times Center in midtown Manhattan and they were also available via live streams on the internet. If you missed the live internet streams you can view the videos on the USFRA website.  

Conversation in the Media, Marketing and Healthy Choices segment focused on what can be done to ensure that consumers have access to accurate information when making food choices. One idea shared by several of the panelists is to get consumers on farms for a first-hand look at modern agriculture. Michigan State University Extension is working to do this through its Breakfast on the Farm program which began in 2009 and has since reached more than 40,000 consumers.

Panelists in the Antibiotics and Your Food segment discussed why antibiotics are used and what every consumer should know about antibiotic use in the food system. The panel consisted of a pork producer from Iowa; a Doctor of Veterinarian Medicine and Assistant Director in a division of the American Veterinary Medical Association; a pediatric nutritionist, the Director of Food Policy Initiatives for the Consumers Union and a dairy farmer and veterinarian from North Carolina.

The final segment, Biotechnology and Your Food, explored Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s); the role of science in addressing issues tied to food production, climate and a growing population and the need to educate consumers about modern food production.

The sponsor of the series, the USFRA is a collaboration of farmer- and rancher-led organizations and agricultural partners. They are dedicated to identifying and answering questions that Americans have about how food is grown and raised. All three segments from this year’s session in New York provide food for thought and demonstrate the need for continued dialogue around food and modern food production. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Know your Farmer, Know Your Food, also leads a national conversation about food and agriculture to strengthen the connections between consumers and farmers. Keeping the conversations going helps all better understand agriculture and its importance in our daily lives.

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