May 23, 2014

Expert Commentary by Trey Hill

By Trey Hill, Harborview Farms

This post is part of a series produced by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, marking the occasion of its fifth Global Food Security Symposium 2014 in Washington, DC.

As a large grain producer, living in the mid Atlantic, I am able to see agriculture and food production from a unique perspective. There are three primary stakeholders that all hold very different views on the present and future of agriculture, and on a broader scale, global food production. One of the biggest issues facing the future is the lack of communication and openness to the perspectives of the others.  In order to feed the world a healthy diet, sustainably, I think that these groups will have to work together.

Grain producers around the world are the biggest producers of calories for our global population, yet are rarely heard from in many of the discussions that are held outside of the agricultural industry. That’s why I was pleased to participate in The Chicago Council’s Symposium yesterday in Washington, DC.  

The environmental community now has an increasingly larger impact on agriculture than ever before. There is a huge opportunity for collaboration, but also for contention if misguided.  In the process of growing food, there will always be some nutrient loading of the waterways. As more extreme weather occurs, this problem will be magnified. Today we have an opportunity to bring together influential groups from the environmental and farming communities to tackle these challenges together. The fact is, we share many of the concerns about food security and environmental stewardship.

The third stakeholder often refers to themselves as “foodies.” I share their commitment to ensuring nutritious, local diets for the growing population. This group is diverse and growing, and wants to see a lot of changes in the where, when, and how our food is grown.

“Big agriculture” and foodies must learn to coexist. While some may only see obstacles, I have demonstrated it by having a community supported agriculture operating on one of my farms. I think this union will facilitate not only a greater opportunity for a better diet, but foster a young progressive agricultural community who are needed more than ever before. Collaboration among all groups is possible, I currently serve on the board of a local riverkeeper organization, the Sassafras riverkeepers,  and am a member of several other environmental groups. Farmers in my area work hand in hand with  environmental groups on projects on their farms to improve sustainability.

While there are many stakeholders holding very different views today, I think we really have the similar vision for the future. A vision of a healthier, cleaner world, in which there are enough healthy calories to feed a growing population.



The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

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End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

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ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

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Our New Gordian Knot

Fifty years ago Dr. Norman Borlaug recieved the Nobel Peace Prize for cutting the "Goridan knot" of population and food production. Now the planet faces another seemingly intractable problem: how to nourish the planet while preserving the planet.