Forum for the Future of Agriculture

Only nine months ago, food security was at the top of the global agenda. Rapidly rising food prices caused by increased demand and poor harvests exacerbated by the scarcity of water and land, and trade distortions propelled the topic of food security to the top of the political agenda. Meetings and summits were held, money was committed, and stakeholders engaged. Agriculture became politically important at the international level and we looked again at how farmers’ might be enabled to produce what we demand from them.

But the global financial crisis then took hold and has increasingly diverted attention away from this critical issue. Yet the need to sustainably increase food production in a way that optimizes the use of our natural resources, ensuring that healthy, nutritious, and varied food is universally accessible at an affordable price, has never been more important.

The Food & Agriculture Organization is right to point out that the cereal stocks-to-use ratio in 2008/9 is at its second lowest level in three decades. Returning them to their pre-crisis levels will require a 40% increase in production. And whilst food prices may have fallen, they are still above their long term trend levels and the number of hungry people in the world is rising again to an estimated 960m in 2009.

On March 18, 2009 the Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) will once again convene at Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels. Building on the debate created by the first forum of March 2008 and other important summits which have been held since, FFA2009 will try to refocus political attention on food and environmental security and warn against abandoning the problem while we concentrate on the current financial and economic crises with their trade implications.

In particular, the Forum will pose a number of questions including:
• Are current commodity, financial and trade markets functioning well or not?
• Is the financing for the international food trade sufficient in terms of availability and cost?
• Is food protectionism growing and what are the effects of food barter deals?
• Is there a relationship between the Global Financial Crisis and Commodity Speculation?
• Do the recent problems in the global economy impact on the ability to build Sustainable Farming System?
• Is Europe responding effectively to the food & environmental security challenge?
• Will the global economic crisis prevent us from achieving food & environmental security?
• Is a new architecture required for financing food and environmental security?

An impressive lineup of leading speakers from EU institutions, European and World Governments, Industry, NGOs and organizations including the FAO, will endeavor to answer these questions.

In the lead up to FFA2009, we are inviting you to tell us what you think about these important questions and, in particular, whether the challenges of overcoming food and environmental security should be left until we have resolved the current crisis in the world economy.

Join us over the next six weeks as we discuss the challenge – financing and governing food & environmental security.

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