AGree Blog

What Matters Most?

The U.S. government is the world’s single largest donor of publicly-funded food assistance, a reflection of the support and commitment that the American people have shown over generations for those around the world who struggle with poverty and food insecurity, especially in times of natural disasters or conflict.

Ag Day 2014 – Time to Make Connections for Positive Change

Public awareness of agriculture's vital role in our society was the simple idea that led to the establishment of National Ag Day in 1973. This year, in addition to events held around the country, a statue of legendary plant breeder Dr. Norman Borlaug was unveiled in a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol. In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, Dr. Borlaug warned that the struggle against hunger had not been won. “We may be at high tide now, but ebb tide could soon set in if we become complacent and relax our efforts,” he said.

Now is the Time to Address Immigration Reform

In late January, the House leadership issued principles to guide their work on immigration reform.

As producers, we applaud this step to begin working on immigration, and we were glad to see the document specifically note the labor challenges facing agriculture in the absence of reform.

A Better Way Forward for Food and Agriculture

By AGree Co-Chairs Dan Glickman, Gary Hirshberg, Jim Moseley and Emmy Simmons

Passage of the 2014 Farm Bill ends a frustrating two-year legislative journey, largely driven by a search for significant budget reductions, and often fueled by polarizing rhetoric on how to make those cuts a reality.

Discover the Cover: Farmers Realize Benefits, Challenges of Soil-Improving Cover Crops

A growing number of farmers throughout the nation have “discovered the cover” — and for some very good reasons.

They’re recognizing that by using cover crops and diverse rotations, it’s possible to actually improve the health and function of their soil, said David Lamm, a soil health expert with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Farmers are also reaping the benefits healthy soils bring to their operations in the form of better nutrient cycling, improved water infiltration and more consistent yields over time.

The Noble Academy – Closing the Farm to Consumer Knowledge Gap

Pick any day and there's bound to be a student tour snaking its way through the hallways and corridors of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation of Ardmore, Oklahoma (, the largest independent, non-profit agricultural research institute in the U.S.

On a perfectly normal tour last spring, a 5th grader made a revealing statement. When learning that hamburger meat originated from cows, the young man balked and said, "I would never get my meat from a cow. I'd just buy it from the grocery store."

Student Ag Innovators Compete for $215,000 in Prizes!

What’s the one thread that ties all humans together? The need to eat!

The social, nutritional and cultural importance of food in our society should never be underemphasized. Yet until now, there was no major student competition in the world focused specifically on rewarding agricultural innovation.

Unstick Food Arguments

Arguing about which type of agriculture is best is like the soft mud in a dirt road—it’s where we get stuck. Small farms and big farms each have logic and value for different people, crops and places. Good farmers of any type—organic or “conventional”—can learn from one another.

The Food Aid Debate is a Distraction

Since the global food price spikes of 2008-09 and the widespread riots that ensued, the world has begun to pay more attention to food security. The link between food and security is no longer in question.

There's been a lot of debate recently in the U.S. about food aid reform, especially since the U.S. Government proposed a shift toward more cash programs and increased local and regional purchases of food close to where it is needed. But what's lost in the lively discussion is a sense of long-term focus.

Four Key Facts About SNAP

When Congress picks up its Farm Bill deliberations in September, proposed cuts to SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) will once again be on the table. Recent reports suggest that House leadership is considering a package that would cut SNAP by some $40 billion over 10 years – twice the level of cuts included in the original House Farm Bill.

Time to Recognize SNAP Works

Mark Winne on July 24th launched an attack on anti-hunger groups for creating and adhering to “orthodoxy” – i.e., in his words, acting as “pit bull defenders” of SNAP (food stamps) that “threaten to rip the limbs off heretics” who might “modify” SNAP, and that “oppose food stamp change at any cost.” Winne doesn’t actually propose any changes, although he seems comfortable with the disastrous recent House of Representatives’ splitting of the Farm Bill into two parts, and he references New York City’s ill-conceived proposal – rejected by USDA – for a sloppily evaluated “demonstration

Time to Re-think Food Stamps

At the risk of being labeled a Tea Party toady or right-leaning deviationist, I have to ask if the severing of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) from the Farm Bill by the Republican House Majority isn’t an opportunity worth taking advantage of. And in the same breath, I have to ask if the lockstep resistance to that move and piling on of liberal vituperation isn’t yet more evidence that the left-leaning social policy machine is running on empty.

Good Reasons to Pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform

After months of negotiation and intense debate, on June 27 the U.S. Senate passed S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, with a healthy push from AGree.

Of the approximately two million agricultural workers in the United States, it is estimated that at least half are undocumented immigrants. Specifically relevant to agriculture, S. 744 creates a blue card for existing agricultural immigrants, and would also create an agricultural guest worker program to address the future flow of workers.

Report Highlights Opportunities in Collaborative Agricultural Landscape Management

When the South Florida Water Management District announced new standards to reduce nutrient loading and increase water retention on the lands draining into Lake Okeechobee, one of the most important regions in the world for water and wildlife, Northern Everglades cattle ranchers knew they needed strategies to meet those environmental targets while maintaining the profitability of their beef operations.

Seven Key Elements of a Great Public Agricultural Research System

We recently wrote one of five papers in response to a call for concept notes issued by AGree to elicit bold ideas on strengthening the U.S. public sector agricultural research system. The papers are available here. We believe the following seven recommendations are critical ingredients for building a more efficient and sustainable public agricultural research system that responds to the challenges of the future:

Modernizing U.S. Food Aid: Reaching More for Less

U.S. food aid has been the backbone of our global emergency response system for more than 60 years. When natural, economic, or political disaster strikes another part of the world and people are left without food, the U.S. has delivered.

Immigration Reform Headed for the Senate Floor

After months of negotiation and intense debate for weeks in the Judiciary Committee, the U.S. Senate is expected to begin consideration of S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, the week of June 10.

Meeting Food Demands in Urban Areas

Our planet is swiftly urbanizing. Today, for the first time in history, more than half of earth’s people live in cities, but by 2050, the percentage of urban dwellers is expected to jump to 70 percent.

Students Farming in the Heart of the City

Who would have predicted that a public high school with a curriculum focused on agriculture, located in one of the biggest cities in America, would become so popular with kids that a lottery system is necessary to choose 150 lucky students from among 3,000 applicants each year?

Background Paper Hampered by Focus on Narrow Research Goals

Editor’s note: Recently, AGree posted to its website a background paper by Philip G. Pardey, Julian M. Alston and Connie Chan-Kang entitled Public Food and Agricultural Research in the United States: The Rise and Decline of Public Investments, and Policies for Renewal. The publication was commissioned by AGree to inform and stimulate dialogue about policy reform; it does not represent official AGree positions.

A Call to Action on Conservation Compliance


Ag Labor and Immigration - A Case in Point

As the 113th Congress gets underway, it appears that both political parties are serious about tackling comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, for the first time in many years. A crucial piece of that package must address farm labor issues, a topic that has risen to the top of the policy agenda for AGree and many other groups. Wyoming rancher Pat O’Toole, an AGree Advisory Committee member, has strong views on this subject.