of leadership and understanding that Secretary Vilsack brings to the conference. It’s time to acknowledge the positive role of agriculture. The capacity to pivot during the pandemic and the unprecedented resulting food chain disruption realigned much of the dynamic structures of farming, ranching, fisheries and the processing/distribution infrastructure in place to feed the planet. The essential services needed to provide food to an always hungry world are perhaps more appreciated today than at any time over the last half century. Public officials and politicians increasingly have lost the institutional knowledge about agriculture’s pressures and needs, and are becoming less able to understand the industry that they regulate. Regulatory good intentions for animal welfare, environmental priorities and trade restraints are causing havoc and unpredictability that are as

that we can’t improve. Everyone is saying that we must collectively move towards adaptation and resilience to address the multiple challenges facing humanity. These are not necessarily new battles, but for the most part, old and painfully recurring lessons that we never seem to fully solve. One difference is that we are armed with a dynamic, growing box of tools, technologies and innovative solutions to some of these biggest problems. When people speak about a glass half full or half empty, they fail to ask about how much can be poured from the pitcher. In 1978, when I started farming, it was an exciting time for fruit and vegetable growers as we were just starting to shift our irrigation systems from furrow to sprinklers to drip tape. In 1938 when my just-retired farmer neighbor started farming (as a 13-year-old), he was driving a team of horses to plow his fields. He can still tell you

beings who have nothing to do with how their food, fiber and fuel supply is produced, but expect to consume that productivity without interruption. So when the almost always well- intentioned, non-productive activists say that “agriculture” uses 80 percent of the world’s developed water supply, or emits 10 percent of greenhouse gasses, one has to wonder what planet do they live on because they are the majority users of the water and these critical resources that sustain their lives every day. As I fly over England from Scotland and look down on the patchwork quilt looking green landscape, it’s easy to imagine a time long ago when there was nothing but forest with no signs of the presence of an unusual animal that somehow figured out how to reap a more predictable food supply from the land and increase his numbers. So much of the world’s food supply comes from temperate regions, and the thought of moving agricultural areas to accommodate shifting climate zones is a logistical nightmare. The experts— farmers, ranchers and foresters—who will actually get the job done must organize themselves to anticipate how they will adapt to pronouncements of catastrophic climate change. The non-productive folk— those with the suits and ties—will do well to listen, assist and support the producers who are struggling to operate against the man-made and natural odds. Why should agriculture be a focal point for COP26 and all future COP events? Because whether or not weather shifts, the challenge to feed an estimated global population of 9 billion souls is no small task. The essential endeavor to live within our means on this planet is predicated on the collaborative innovation that comes from understanding what’s in the pitcher and honestly assessing just how full or empty that cup might be. I believe that here in the early part of the 21 st century, the pour is much more robust than the fear peddlers want us to know. Cheers! A.G. Kawamura is Owner/Partner of Orange County Produce LLC in Irvine, Calif., and Co-Chair of Solutions From the Land, a non-profit organization that strives to implement climate-smart land management practices and strategies. He is the former Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and a member of the Western Growers Board of Directors.

“Agriculture’s collaborative role in building resilience across the planet must go hand-in-hand with the strategies to adapt to climate change.”

damaging as erratic weather. Increased costs of production without increasing market prices are putting the squeeze on many growers, forcing consolidation or downsizing. When was the last time our world was not in crisis? Statistically speaking, the world has never had fewer wars, more predictable abundance of food, more people out of poverty and suffering from scarcity and hunger as a percentage of total population, more people with access to knowledge. And yet we can witness, predict and pinpoint areas of famine, squalor, drought, catastrophic flooding, locust plagues. At conferences like COP26 we can describe a world in crisis or a world of opportunity and progress. No one is saying

the names of his three horses: Dolly, Baldy and Clod. He told me that the neighboring Japanese vegetable growers liked to borrow Dolly because she was a smaller horse and had smaller hooves and didn’t step on the plants when they cultivated. Precision agriculture has been around for a long time—it just looks different today. How we farm, what and where we might farm has changed tremendously. What has not changed is the overlooked fact that most of the people of the world do expect to eat every day, and the dwindling number of actual producers of food as a percentage of population have to increase their productivity to meet the needs of a growing global population. What should be an easy equation is lost on the minds of the billions of human



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