Ag groups’ teamwork has message (Editorial)

by | Nov 29, 2018

One day after the Nov. 6 mid-term elections, amidst escalating political rhetoric and partisanship, farm groups are finding common ground.
The National Pork Board, United Soybean Board and National Corn Growers Association announced a partnership to develop a sustainability research platform to benefit all three organization’s members.
This research program will include sharing completed research, coordinating current and planned research and communicating results with each organization’s members.
Leadership from the three commodity groups agreed it is prudent to consider specific ways in which they might work together more effectively to ensure alignment and collaboration in sustainability research and how the results can and will be communicated and shared.
“Most farmers are invested in multiple commodities and invested in more than one of our organizations, so it’s important that we are collaborating wherever we can,” said Lewis Bainbridge, USB chair and soybean and livestock farmer from South Dakota. “We need to be supportive of one another, especially now when there’s more interest in what we’re doing to produce our commodities. We need to be looking at the big picture of how our commodities work together and take that a step further.”
A task force of farmer representatives from the three groups will be formed and take responsibility for managing and evaluating the activities outlined in the agreement and track its progress.
A week after the groups’ announcement, the Environmental Defense Fund and NCGA announced a first-of-its-kind partnership between an environmental organization and commodity crop association.
It aims to address one of the most pressing challenges for today’s farmers, rural communities and natural resources — how to improve environmental outcomes while optimizing productivity and profitability.
Their new agreement focuses on increasing the use and value of emerging data technology and explore innovative ways to add value to conservation practices on farms.
“The public expects greater stewardship and transparency from farmers, and it’s critical for the agricultural sector to show leadership on conservation,” said Nathan Fields, vice president of production and sustainability at NCGA. “EDF and NCGA are stronger together. We have different expertise and perspectives, and combining them is a real opportunity.”
In both of these different yet significant instances, these groups could have opted for entrenchment, staying within its own camp and not considered the collaboration.
In a year fraught with economic challenges in the agriculture industry, the pork, grain and oilseed groups presenting a united front where they have shared goals is commendable and expects to be a rising tide for the proverbial boats of farmers nationwide.
NCGA and EDF have had a relationship well before this formalized partnership was established, group leadership said.
These agreements, in a time when disagreements are so common, are powerful statements. We hope the results are as well.

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