CHESTERFIELD, MISSOURI, U.S. — A delegation representing U.S. corn farmers brought their perspective to meetings held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations climate talks in Paris, France this week. Through presentations and panel discussions, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) shared U.S. corn farmers’ perspectives on a wide array of sustainability and environmental issues.
The event, hosted by Field to Market, Business for Social Responsibility and Pepsico, brought together notable dignitaries, including French Foreign Minister and COP21 President Laurent Fabius and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, included discussions on the value of public-private partnerships, reducing greenhouse gas emissions while increasing productivity and collaboration to achieve large scale change.
The international event brought corn farmers interests to the climate change talks on many levels. NCGA is a founding member of meeting organizer, Field to Market, which was represented by Rod Snyder, chief executive officer (CEO). NCGA participated directly through a presentation by corn board member Keith Alverson, a farmer from South Dakota, U.S., who received additional support in discussions from Vice-President of Production and Sustainability Paul Bertels. Representatives from U.S. soy, wheat and industry also shared their perspectives.
“Many times, discussions on climate change and agriculture either foretell doom and gloom or place blame,” said Alverson. “In Paris, we explored the opportunities that would have a positive impact on agriculture and on our climate. Farmers in the United States and around the world have a vested interest in preserving the air, water and soils that allow us to pass along our farms from generation to generation.”
“While I felt the discussions looked at the potential agriculture has in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, our talks were somewhat overshadowed by the EPA’s announcement that indicated weakening support for renewable fuels, such as ethanol,” he said. “U.S. corn farmers work every day to grow a sustainable crop that provides a cleaner, renewable fuel. If the administration wishes to publicly support efforts to reduce carbon emissions, it must first take actions which would fight it at home.”