AGree Food Policy Initiative Launches

It's hard to find a hot-button topic as blazing hot as food politics right now. Which is why I called in to a Washington DC press conference yesterday to learn about the launch of AGree, a new bipartisan initiative to tackle issues like the rising cost of food, farming, starvation, environmentalism, and how the world's population surge will affect the food supply.

It may not sound like a fascinating topic, but it is. Especially that last part: Over the next four decades, more than 2.6 billion people will be added to the world's population, a nearly 40 percent increase from where we're at right now. Food prices are rising, the land devoted to farming is diminishing, fish stocks are depleted. The choices are to deal with these issues now or to face apocalyptic scenes like something out of a Mel Gibson movie later (or, gulp, sooner).

So what's AGree gonna do about it? Eight of the world's leading foundations—including the Ford Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—announced yesterday that they're joining forces in AGree to fund studies and analysis of the issues surrounding food, and will help set an agenda to overcome the politics that so often stalls change in Washington.

"Agriculture issues need to be at the top of the United States' and world's agenda, alongside energy, healthcare and national security," said Dan Glickman, former Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture and a former congressman from Kansas. "AGree will elevate the agriculture and food policy conversation. We will make it clear to leaders and policymakers that, while difficult, solving food and agriculture issues is of utmost importance and can help solve other pressing problems including public health and the need for economic growth."

Gary Hirshberg, President and CEO of Stonyfield Farms also spoke of AGree's mission to spur change. "Our current food system is broken for farmers, consumers, and the environment," Hirshberg said. "We must move beyond the political knee-jerk defense of traditional agriculture and face the need for change armed with real-world, scientific facts and analysis that AGree can provide."

AGree's formation is an important step for Americans to start addressing the increasingly important issues surrounding food and agriculture. We'll be covering these topics regularly on Food Republic, and encouraging debate and education.

Food Republic wants to know: Are you involved in any food initiatives, charities, or organizations? Tell us about it in the comments, and please provide links so others can learn about ways to get involved.