We believe agriculture has a central role in promoting long-term sustainability of the world's food supply, economy, and environment.

We’ve seen tremendous progress during the past half-century to help reduce hunger and improve food security around the world. Yet today, we are faced with a complex set of new challenges for food production. These include a growing global population, especially in the developing world, new pressures on water availability and water scarcity, and the effects of climate change on precipitation, soil moisture, extreme weather events, and the viability of some farmland.

Leaders in the private sector and in government must address these challenges to ensure safe and secure food supplies going forward. For this reason, today we are releasing a new report, Food for Thought: A Call to Action on the Future of Sustainable Agriculture. Our goal is to raise awareness of the headwinds we face in food security, and to work with all stakeholders—consumers, farmers and ranchers, food retailers, scientists, academics, governments, NGOs and others in our industry—to address these long-term challenges.

Today, our companies and many others in agriculture and food production are reducing our environmental footprints to minimize the impact of our operations and to conserve natural resources. For example, our companies are working to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by using more renewable energy and optimizing energy efficiency in our operations, and to optimize water use and improve water quality impacts. We’re also calling for industry-wide solutions and innovations to help improve agriculture sustainability from the farm to the grocery store. 

To continue to meet the wholesome, nutritious food needs of a growing world population in the face of new and emerging risks, the agriculture sector needs more tailored support systems than ever before. Farmers and ranchers in every region need accessible data and technology, information, resources and materials to support the adoption of management practices that increase their resiliency to climate change and accompanying severe weather events. Droughts in some regions and high wind and precipitation events in others can lead to soil erosion and lost productivity for crops and livestock.

Adaptation to changing weather and temperature patterns from climate change can require shifts in crop and seed selection, crop rotations, livestock production, and management systems.

Our companies, collaborating together with our partners, are working to help provide the sector with the tools to make informed, science- and data-based decisions that make economic and environmental sense for producers, their employees, and their communities.

We commit to sharing successes and solutions so that we can continue to meet the needs of agricultural producers and our partners, and to communicating best practices that can deliver solutions as quickly as the challenging circumstances evolve.

The member countries of the United Nations unanimously adopted a 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015, including 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Food and agriculture are central to many of the goals and are essential to building a future where people are free from hunger and have economic stability. Improved health, wellbeing, and livelihoods also depend on reduced environmental impacts and natural resource conservation and protection, underscoring the importance of sustainable food and agriculture supply chains. We encourage others across the chain to use science-based practices and technologies to ensure continued gains in efficiency, productivity, and innovation in food and agriculture production in order to achieve these goals.

Many of our companies, and hundreds of others, engaged in Paris in support of a global climate change agreement adopted by 196 countries. This spirit of cooperation must lead to concrete results on a host of issues related to environmental sustainability, agriculture, and food production.

The writer are members of the CEO Council on Sustainability and Innovation: Bryant, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Kellogg Company; Collins, Executive Vice President, DuPont; Ettinger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Hormel Foods; Policinski, President and Chief Executive Officer, Land O’Lakes and Simmons, President, Elanco