A number of topics related to world food production and increased demand for food by a growing world population were discussed at the annual World Food Prize symposium last week in Des Moines. Over 1,200 people with an interest in food and agriculture from 75 nations attended this year's event. They included government policymakers, company representatives, academics, researchers, representatives of non-government organizations and others from both the public and private sectors.
In one of the sessions the topic of rising land prices and ownership of land was discussed. The relative stability that farmland offers investors appears to be even more attractive, especially in this time of economic uncertainty. As a result, some investors have been snapping up arable land in places such as Africa, South America, Ukraine and Russia. Agriculture and land have attracted a lot of investor attention in the United States, too.
More money is coming from outside U.S. agriculture to buy farmland
"The amount of funding coming from outside the U.S. ag industry could have a major impact and actually change agriculture in a way that we have not seen in the United States or globally," explains Vanessa Kummer, vice chair of the United Soybean Board (USB) and soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D. "Right now our role is to monitor this closely to find out what effect this could have for U.S. soybean farmers."
Kummer serves as chair of USB's Global Opportunities (GO) program, which tries to get ahead of issues just like this one to identify what they could mean to U.S. farmers. Kummer says USB will monitor this issue closely and keep U.S. soybean farmers informed of the extent of this investment.
The Global Ag Investing Conference, which Kummer attended in New York City recently, examined the growing appetite for investing in agriculture. The conference gave hedge-fund, pension-fund and other investors the chance to learn about agriculture and various farming regions of the world. "This represents a fairly new investment area for some, and there was a large amount of money represented by the group in the room," says Kummer. "These investors have the interest and the ability to affect the agriculture sector."
World Food Prize event celebrates the many benefits of soy
Soy is one of the most versatile, nutritious and abundant food sources available, and attendees of the 2011 World Food Prize tasted the benefits of soy during a lunch at the event. The World Food Prize Soy Lunch is sponsored by the United Soybean Board, Iowa Soybean Association (ISA), The Soyfoods Council, the American Soybean Association's World Initiative for Soy in Human Health program and World Soy Foundation, and DuPont. It features soy proteins and enhanced high oleic soybean oil in an effort to educate attendees on the benefits this crop can have on world food systems.
"We are proud to be join the other sponsors in once again showcasing soy foods at this year's World Food Prize meetings," says ISA chief executive officer Kirk Leeds. "Providing high quality soybean oil and vegetable protein to a growing world is more than just a job for the U.S. soybean industry. It is a responsibility that we all embrace as we work to feed a hungry world."
Soybean farmers play big role in helping to ensure world food security
The World Food Prize recognizes individuals who have improved the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in world agriculture, envisioned the World Food Prize to emphasize the importance of making a sustainable and nutritious food supply available to all people.
U.S. soybean farmers play a significant role in ensuring food security by producing an abundant, nutritious crop that yields approximately 356 pounds of usable protein and 500 pounds of oil per acre of farmland.The Soy Lunch exemplifies the World Food Prize philosophy with a menu demonstrating the versatility, quality, flavor and nutrition provided by soy. Featured menu items this year includes a healthier, stability enhanced soybean oil developed from DuPont Plenish brand high oleic soybeans that will be used for frying, salad dressings and marinades, and soy proteins that were incorporated throughout the meal.