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Farm landscape USDA photo.jpg USDA Photo by Lance Cheung
Aerial view of two man-made L-shaped Water and Sediment Control Basins (practice code 638) at Norwood Farms where owners and producers Don and son Grant Norwood implement crop rotation and residue management to reduce erosion leading to improved land use and crop production; they practice no-till farming on nearly every acre in the operation, in Henry County, Tennessee.

Consumers, farmers share concerns for food system

Research shows next-generation farmers and consumers share strong desire to be involved in securing future of food and farming.

The next generation of farmers and consumers understand the complexity of the challenges facing food and farming and share a desire to come together to secure its future, according to a new study, "The Future of Food & Farming."

This first-of-its-kind research, commissioned by Corteva Agriscience, examined views on the future of food and farming by next-generation farmers and consumers in the U.S., Brazil, China, France and Russia. Notably, the study reveals surveyed participants in different global markets are highly aligned in their concern about the future of food and farming.

The study, conducted by Kantar, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consultancy companies, also revealed that Gen Z/Millennial farmers and consumers want to have more influence over decisions about how food is grown, sold and consumed and share a deep desire to be involved in securing the financial and environmental sustainability of farms. Key insights from the research are profiled in an accompanying white paper that includes data from each of the countries involved in the study.

“Two of the most important voices in the food system today are those of young farmers and consumers,” Corteva Agriscience chief executive officer James Collins Jr. said. “They see that the future and ability to thrive are interconnected. Now is the time to empower both farmers and consumers to face the challenges of the future with mutual understanding, appreciation and a willingness to work together to ensure long-term security to both farming and food.”

Protecting the future of food is an important shared goal. The survey revealed that 89% of consumers and 73% of farmers are concerned that the world will not have enough food for its nutritional needs by 2040. In addition, 90% or more of next-generation farmers and consumers agree that everyone needs to compromise to secure the future of food. More than 80% of young farmers and consumers say they are willing to take personal responsibility for helping address the challenges of food and farming.

Confronting climate volatility is inevitable. An overwhelming 95% of farmers and 97% of consumers believe that the climate is changing and that it will have a negative impact on the global food supply in the next 20 years, with the exception of young farmers and consumers in the U.S., where less than half feel this way.

Those who believe in climate change say the most serious threats to food and farming from climate change will be food price increases, new diseases that destroy crops and livestock, disruptions to crop growing cycles, food shortages and the destruction of crops.

More than 90% of both next-generation farmers and consumers want to live in a world where no one must choose between the environment and having enough to eat, and both groups want to join forces to find ways in which both farming and consumption can change to have a lower impact on the climate.

The survey found that 80% of consumers and 81% of farmers agree that it will be difficult for farmers to make a living in the future. It also revealed that 90% agree that farmers will have to adopt innovative new technologies and methods to address the food and farming issues ahead.

“Farmers and consumers often are portrayed as two different parties at opposite ends of the global food system. The findings in this study reveal a different picture of young farmers and consumers wanting to meet in the middle and define ways to solve some of biggest issues in the future of farming and food,” said Dana Bolden, senior vice president of external affairs and sustainability for Corteva Agriscience. “Finding common ground is essential, and we are committed to exploring ways where Corteva can help cultivate the kinds of conversations between the next generation of farmers and consumers that are needed to bring about timely solutions.”

A total of 93% of both next-generation consumers and farmers feel that they need a bigger voice when it comes to securing the future of food and farming. Next-generation consumers (94%) and farmers (80%) have opinions about what food should be produced and also believe that big players in the food chain — including food wholesalers, food input suppliers and food manufacturing companies — have more influence than they do over how food is grown, sold and consumed.

At this time, independent farmers are not deemed a major influencer of consumer opinion. Despite their support for collaboration and partnership, farmers and consumers believe that certain barriers prevent them from coming together. Among these are lack of knowledge about — or understanding of — each other, perceived socioeconomic differences and no means of direct communication, the report noted.

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