Agriculture Struggles Unnecessarily, According to Steve Forbes

Forbes Chairman Has Suggestions to Help

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Water and labor are major agricultural issues in California. California Ag Today recently spoke with Steve Forbes, chairman and editor in chief of Forbes Media, about the topics.

“I think that the more people are realizing the enormous opportunities of technology in agriculture. They think that it is going to get better and better in the future,” Forbes said.Everything from reservoirs to desalination plants should be modeled after Israel. They have been building desalination plants because Israel is in a desert where they have been getting rainfall.

Steve Forbes

“This is a very sophisticated use of water in agriculture where they are a real global power,” Forbes said.

Today, Israel uses 10 percent less water as a whole, not per capita, than they did 70 years ago despite the economy being 60 times larger.

Forbes thinks labor is also an issue.

“We are hurting ourselves, our food production, not just in agriculture but construction as well,” he said.

Forbes said we should recycle the programs that we once had, programs where returning people come in for specific time periods for specific jobs. This would help prevent the illegal immigrant problem because workers know they can come back.

On another note, he discussed the current trade war that the U.S. is in with China.

“If you hear 10 percent tariff on aluminum, that’s a 10 percent sales tax; put it that way and people’s eyes go up and they get it right away,” Forbes said.

Putting sales taxes on American consumers, agriculture, farmers, and businesses is not the best way to resolve very real trade abuses.

“Everyone knows from the disaster and the depression of the 1930s what trade wars can lead to,” Forbes said.

Forbes also explained that GMOs greatly benefit producers and should not be attacked as harmful to consumers.

“GMOs have been studied fairly well, and they are making food more plentiful. It makes food a safer in terms that you don’t have to use as many pesticides,” he said. “GMOs make a better use of water, and there is a lot less loss to diseases and insects. We are using human ingenuity to make the human condition better.”

John Hartnett on Ag Tech

John Hartnett on Forbes AgTech and Urban Appreciation for Agriculture

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

 

Forbes AgTech Summit

John Hartnett, founder and CEO of Los Gatos-based SVG Partners LLC, a Silicon Valley area investment and advisory firm, has played a pivotal role in the organization of the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas every summer. Hartnett said before partnering with Forbes, “we ran the first one here in Salinas and another one in Monterey. Two hundred people attended the Monterey Innovation Summit.”

John Hartnett, founder and CEO of Los-Gatos-based SVG Partners LLC, and pivotal organizer of the annual Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas.
John Hartnett, founder and CEO of Los-Gatos-based SVG Partners LLC, and pivotal organizer of the annual Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas.

“Then we partnered with Forbes and it brought us to a whole new level. Partnering with Forbes for the past two of four major AgTech Summits,”has been great,” Hartnett said. “Last year we had 400 people. This year, we had 700 people. Increased attendance has put Salinas on the map of being the center of AgTech.

“I bring leaders from technology and agriculture together,” Hartnell said. “It is a great event for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to be onstage and get recognition in front of investors, customers and key business people they will work with.”

“Having Forbes and the Ag industry from across the country here in the heart of Salinas is phenomenal. We’ve executed this overall plan well. We are delighted with the outcomes.”

The next Forbes AgTech Summit will convene again in Salinas on June 28-29, 2017.

Urban Appreciation

Beyond AgTech, Harnett said helping urban American populations understand the rural Ag community is one of the agricultural industry’s biggest challenges. “The first thing you need to do is bring people around the table. I’m a consumer of food. I am the end user of what’s going on, but many people just don’t understand the supply chain.”

“They understand some of the water challenges at a high level because these issues are in everybody’s face today. This is part of the education process and it starts by bringing people and key groups together.”

“What we’re doing, in small part, is focusing on technological leaders and companies from Palo Alto and San Francisco that are coming, probably for the first time, to Salinas. They are absolutely impressed and blown away by what is actually here. And, instead of driving past farms, they are going into the farms.”

Bayer AgVocacy Forum Connects Public with Food Production

Bayer Advocacy Forum Narrows Gap Between Public and Food Production

Food system, science and agriculture experts gather to discuss the convergence of food and the future of agriculture

NEW ORLEANS, La.  Advancing the conversation about the best ways to sustainably feed a growing population is the overarching theme for the 2016 AgVocacy Forum, sponsored by Bayer CropScience. Representatives from agriculture and consumer media will hear from thought leaders in science, nutrition and sustainable food production at the invitation-only event TODAY.

David Hollinrake, vice president, marketing & portfolio management, Bayer
David Hollinrake, vice president, marketing & portfolio management, Bayer

Formerly “Ag Issues Forum,” AgVocacy Forum continues a decade-long tradition of bringing together a diverse mix of people, experience and opinions to exchange ideas and philosophies that help shape and influence modern agriculture. This year’s event shines a spotlight on how being an “AgVocate” may help bridge the growing divide between consumers and those involved in food production.

“There are many challenges facing today’s food producer and perhaps none more important than building trust with consumers,” said David Hollinrake, vice president, marketing & portfolio management, Bayer. “We assembled experts at AgVocacy Forum to spark dialogue and bring focus to the steps needed to educate and engage a public that is increasingly detached from modern agriculture.”

Carolyn O'Neil, MS, RDN, former CNN correspondent
Carolyn O’Neil, MS, RDN, former CNN correspondent

Award-winning author and registered dietician, Carolyn O’Neil, kicked off the Forum last night with a keynote address sharing her insights on consumer preferences driving food trends. The program also featured 12-year-old Braeden Mannering who, while attending the “Kids’ State Dinner” at the White House, was challenged by First Lady Michelle Obama to “pay his experience forward.” Braeden’s response was to create Brae’s Brown Bags (3B), which battles food insecurity by providing healthy snacks to homeless and low-income individuals.

Braeden Mannering, founder Brae's Brown Bags (3B)
Braeden Mannering, founder Brae’s Brown Bags (3B)

Additional guest speakers include:

Kavin Senapathy, author of The Fear Babe: Shattering Vani Hari’s Glass House and regular contributor for Forbes.com

Dan Dye, CEO of Ardent Mills, a joint venture among Cargill, ConAgra Foods and CHS

Josiah Zayner, CEO of The ODIN and former NASA bioscientist

Charles Baron, co-founder and vice president of Farmers Business Network, a crowd-sourced program for data-driven agriculture

AgVocacy Forum is being skillfully moderated by Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University and a former CNN correspondent, anchor and Washington D.C. Bureau Chief.

In conjunction with the event, the Bayer Foundation has made a $10,000 donation to the Orleans Parish 4-H chapter and will work with the chapter to install a Feed a Bee pollinator garden at Ben Franklin Elementary.

Watch a live stream of the AgVocacy Forum at www.agvocacyforum.com, and join the conversation by following @bayer4cropsus and using #AgVocate. Be sure to look for blog posts on the event at www.cropscience.bayer.us/news/blog.

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