Representatives of more than 50 member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and international organizations, including 23 ministers of Agriculture, met in Paris on April 7th and 8th for an exchange on agricultural policy and to define priorities for public agricultural policies. The meeting was co-chaired by French Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll and his American counterpart Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
The meeting of international importance, organized every five or six years, was an occasion for participants to come up with a road map at the international level on agriculture in order to promote common agricultural policies that include competition, sustainability, productivity and resilience.
Building on the agro-ecology project that has been put in place in France, Stéphane Le Foll underlined the importance of combining economic and environmental performance of farms for the implantation of collective strategies at the local, national, and international levels. Global food security, the sustainable management of resources, and in particular the resilience of farms faced with climactic uncertainties are all important issues.
Stéphane Le Foll also reaffirmed the fact that agriculture can and should play a role in finding solutions in the fight against climate change, notably through initiatives like the 4 per 1000 Initiative that uses agriculture to increase the amount of carbon sequestered in soils. The Initiative currently brings together one hundred and fifty nations and international organizations to find different ways of relating to soils in order to do just that.
Increasing support for agricultural innovation was a topic of discussion as well, including science and technology, education and training, and changes in farm management and structure. To help move these changes forward, countries and organization will need to encourage development of the digital economy and data openness related to agriculture and nutrition; increase investments in research and development and both top-down and bottom-up knowledge sharing and innovation systems; and continue support for the bio-economy, including renewable biomass energy and materials.
Mr. Le Foll also insisted on the need of re-orienting the field toward an agriculture that is more resistance to climactic, health and economic shocks to the system through the use of a more-complete risk-management policy and research with greater autonomy.
As we develop solutions, we will also need to promote the development of agriculture and food systems that are both competitive and responsibly managed. Ensuring that the needs of the most vulnerable populations within each food system, addressing food loss and waste, and paying attention to the intersections of animal, plant, and human health, were all discussed as important concerns for international cooperation. Comprehensive and consistent policy packages, developed with the broad support of local food and farm sectors, will be needed to achieve this range of goals.