Roundtable discusses sustainability of agriculture, forestry and fisheries at the U.S. Embassy

An alliance of U.S. agriculture, fishery and forestry organizations met with industry leaders of the food supply chain in Germany on October 30, 2014. The roundtable discussion was held at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin to exchange information and establish ongoing dialogue about production and conservation methods practiced along the food value chains and the forestry sectors in the U.S. and the EU. The dialogue aims to underscore the diversity of approaches to reach the common goal of sustainability against the backdrop of growing food and nutrition demands in the world.

Kelly Stange, Agricultural Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin welcomed 25 participants to the roundtable and highlighted that sustainability has become an integral aspect of doing business across global agricultural and food supply chains. She made clear that the exchange of information at the roundtable between German industry representatives and U.S. producers was an extremely valuable forum to learn about each country’s approaches to sustainability. The dialogue started with a presentation by Amy Philpott and Benno van der Laan, representing the alliance of U.S. organizations, who explained that a survey of EU stakeholders showed there was a deep disconnect between European perceptions and U.S. agricultural production practices. Benno van der Laan stated that the United States is generally by stakeholders in the EU as less sustainable than the EU and that U.S. agriculture doesn’t get much credit in the EU for its conservation systems and laws.

Ron Moore, soybean grower from Illinois, Chad Frahm, U.S. Dairy Export Council, and Nelly Masson, Alaska Seafood and Food Export, showed how U.S. producers conserve land, water, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. This was followed by presentations on sustainability in Germany and the EU by representatives of the German agricultural industry. Willi Kampmann explained the perspective of the German Farmers Union, followed by Dr. Peter Breckling of the German Fisheries Association, Dr. Fridolin Brand of Südzucker, and Dr. Martijn Gipmans of BASF Plant Science.

The roundtable showed the importance of discussing sustainability as a joint commitment between producer and supplier and the common values and goals on both sides of the Atlantic. Sustainability has become an important requirement of doing business, especially in the food sector. In her closing remarks Kelly Stange highlighted that today’s roundtable and next year’s World Expo in Milan are good examples for the growing importance to discuss agriculture. The Milan World Expo 2015 has the aim to promote a global dialogue about the future of our food system. The theme of the American Pavilion will be “American Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet” and it will focus on innovative solutions to the challenges of food security, sustainability, nutrition, and health.