Minnesota’s Stake in Global Engagement

January 14, 2020 By Guest Contributor – Michelle Grogg

Agriculture is inherently local, rooted row-by-row in the soil farmers till, tend, and harvest. But the impacts of agriculture are truly global. We know this is true in farming states like Minnesota, where Cargill has been headquartered for more than a century.

Every year, Minnesota farmers raise more than 100 million turkeys and chickens, 25 million hogs, and 2 million head of cattle. They grow roughly 2 billion bushels of corn and soybeans, and milk more than 450,000 dairy cows. They harvest wheat, oats, sugar beets, potatoes, barley, and more.

All that food has one important purpose: to nourish a hungry world – putting meals on plates not only in school lunchrooms down the street, but also on dinner tables in different hemispheres.

In fact, one out of every three farm acres harvested here in the United States is shipped and sold abroad. Turkeys raised by farmers near Marshall, Minnesota feed families in Mexico and Japan. Soybeans grown outside Owatonna are eaten by people and animals in Indonesia and the Philippines. In that way, the supply chains that move food from where it is grown to where it is needed connect farmers in the Heartland to the nourishment of a broader global community.

At Cargill, we have the unique privilege of making those global connections relevant in people’s lives. Every day, in 125 countries around the world, we connect farmers with markets, and people and animals with the food they need to thrive. We recognize, as farmers do, that when it comes to feeding 7.7 billion people, no one can do that important work alone.

That is why we are proud to partner with the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) as their Heartland Chair. In conversations across 13 Midwest states, we are joining the USGLC and community leaders to discuss how food produced here in the Heartland impacts those far beyond our borders. Those same discussions are amplifying the value and purpose of global leadership.

Our next USGLC Heartland discussion will take place on January 23, 2020, in Minnesota. I look forward to joining U.S. Congressman Dean Phillips and other local leaders from Minneapolis’ business, faith, military, and civic communities for a conversation about the important part Minnesotans play in advancing American interests around the world. From trade to foreign aid, the United States and its hard-working people have much to offer, and still more to gain, through responsible global leadership.

Cargill’s commitment to global leadership extends beyond these important community dialogues. Every day, we are living out our purpose to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way. We do this by facilitating and strengthening global connections. Here are a few examples of how Cargill is doing that important, purpose-driven work.

Advocating for Open Markets

The food farmers grow creates prosperity in their communities, while feeding a hungry world. With the global population on pace to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years, farmers will play a crucial role in meeting a growing demand for food – but only if they can access global markets.

That is why Cargill is a stalwart advocate for open, rules-based trade, which allows farmers to manage risk and produce the food they grow best. The new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) marks important progress on that front; but more can and must be done. Our prosperity and the world’s nourishment depend on it.

Working to End Hunger

Just seventy-five years ago, one-third of the world’s population faced hunger. Today – with five billion more mouths to feed – that ratio has been reduced to one in ten. Agriculture is, in large part, HOW that progress has been achieved.

From innovations that multiplied harvests with higher-yielding, disease-resistant varieties of grain, to advancements in agricultural technologies, transportation, and international collaboration – farmers, scientists, and visionary leaders across the public, private, and non-profit sectors have transformed global food supply chains.

Still, 821 million people face chronic hunger around the world. We have more work to do to fill every empty stomach. That is why Cargill is actively partnering with organizations like CARE, the World Food Programme, Feeding America, and others to address global food security challenges. Working together, we can – and must – end world hunger.

Empowering Girls and Women

When girls and women succeed, we all succeed. That is especially true in low-income countries, where women comprise roughly 43 percent of the agricultural workforce. That is why we are working with CARE to empower 2 million girls and women with the education, resources, and economic support they need to succeed.

This initiative, called She Feeds the World, works directly with girls and women in developing countries to strengthen their skills in sustainable agriculture, financial inclusion, market engagement, gender equality, and food and nutrition security. It also engages with men and boys to support efforts for greater equality.

We are also partnering with Heifer International on an initiative called Hatching Hope. By training women smallholder farmers in poultry production, we are aiming to improve the nutrition and economic livelihoods of 100 million people by 2030. Doing so will help farmers feed their families, improve food security, support local economies and advance nutrition education.

Initiatives like these, and others that Cargill is engaged in with our partners around the world, are first and foremost about improving people’s lives. But they also benefit farmers. By raising standards of living in low-income countries, we can improve other nations’ capacities for purchasing the agricultural products they need, and build promising new markets for farmers.

With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States, and developing countries expected to account for 80 percent of the increase in demand for meat, grains, and oilseeds between now and 2026, farmers have a strong interest in global engagement. It is more important than ever to look beyond traditional markets and pursue every opportunity to access and build up the markets of tomorrow. Most importantly, it is the right thing to do.

Michelle Grogg is Cargill’s Vice President for Corporate Responsibility.