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Source: U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action news release

St. Louis - In a moment of possibility where financial, consumer and societal trends are converging around the need for new action on climate change, U.S. Farmers & Ranchers in Action (USFRA) this week issued a new report spotlighting the key role U.S. agriculture plays in reaching the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

USFRA released the report at its annual Honor the Harvest Forum, co-hosted by The Aspen Institute, which virtually convened more than 200 farmer, rancher, food, agriculture, finance, science and technology leaders to finalize a first-of-its-kind food and agriculture sector-wide vision: a future where a resilient, restorative, economically viable, and climate-smart agricultural system produces abundant and nutritious food, natural fiber and clean energy for a sustainable, vibrant and prosperous America.

"Farmers and ranchers are uniquely positioned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using on-farm practices that increase carbon storage and improve soil, but they can't do it alone," said USFRA CEO, Erin Fitzgerald. "The agriculture industry is currently on a trajectory to halve its carbon footprint in the next ten years. Continued innovation and collaboration at scale is required from every corner of the food and agriculture value chain to reduce greenhouse gases and provide for our communities."

According to the report, U.S. Agriculture's Opportunities to Contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals, U.S. agriculture contributes to all 17 SDGs to sustain people, the planet and prosperity. The sector has an outsized positive impact on a core group of seven SDGs, reflecting both progress to-date and new avenues to address national and global challenges: Clean Water and Sanitation, Climate Action, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Life Below Water, Life on Land, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Zero Hunger.

Unmatched collaboration across the food value chain is required to recover from recent events and build resiliency to manage future shocks and ensure climate-smart ag solutions are accessible and affordable for farmers and ranchers. Disaster events caused over $560 billion in damages in the United States from 2010-2019, before the global pandemic, supply chain disruptions and extreme weather events of 2020.

"There has never been a more important time in our history to co-create the sustainable food systems of the future," said USFRA Board Chairman and seventh-generation farmer, Chip Bowling. "At this year's Honor the Harvest Forum, we deepened focus on coordinating efforts to ensure our food system remains resilient and adaptive to meet challenges on the farm and throughout the supply chain to continue to feed people and support communities."

This year's Honor the Harvest forum builds on USFRA's 2019 convening, which brought together food and agriculture sector thought leaders to create an action framework for the next Decade of Agriculture. The 2020 event featured working sessions with farmers, ranchers, and food industry stakeholders who will advance their sector-wide vision through individual and collective commitments supporting four outcome areas:

Restore our environment through agriculture that regenerates natural resources
Revitalize our collective appreciation for agriculture
Invest in the next generation of agricultural systems
Strengthen the social and economic fabric of America through agriculture
Commitments - which include actions already in progress - will be solidified over the next year to advance these outcomes through focused investments; optimized data, metrics and technology; authentic storytelling and workforce development.

Leaders Weigh in on Bold Actions Needed for Change
"Americans have a greater appreciation today, than they did prior to the pandemic, for the connectedness of our agricultural and food systems - and the impact to their daily lives," said The Aspen Institute Executive Director of Energy and Environmental Program, Greg Gershuny. "Now more than ever, we need to work together to co-create and enable the sustainable food systems of the future."

"Farmers are the original conservationists. We know how important it is to protect the soil. But farmers alone can't be responsible for this monumental task. The next generation of agricultural leaders is already at work with partners across the sector to bring real change," said 4-H member and USFRA Honor the Harvest Advisory Council member, Addy Battel.

"We must accelerate investment in science and data to enable farmers to rapidly respond to climate change," said the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Executive Director and USFRA Board Member, Dr. Sally Rockey. "Doing so will help restore our environment, regenerate natural resources, and advance the next generation of agricultural systems."

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