G-20 Agriculture Ministers Focus on Innovation

Representing USDA at the G-20 Agricultural Ministerial in Xi’an, China, June 3, 2016, were: (back row, left to right): Jason Hafemeister, FAS/Washington; Chris Frederick, FAS/Beijing; Wade Sheppard, FAS/Washington; and Bruce Zanin, FAS/Beijing; and (front row, left to right): Amy Zhang, FAS/Beijing; Tayo Akingbe, FAS/Washington; Jonathan Cordone, USDA deputy under secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services; Sue Cottrell, FAS Washington; Zhang Lei, FAS/Beijing; Elizabeth Jones, FAS/Washington; and James Wei, FAS/Beijing.
 
 
Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Jonathan Cordone led the USDA delegation to the G-20 Agricultural Ministers Meeting in Xi’an, China, June 3. The theme of the gathering was agricultural innovation, which, as Cordone said in his address to the group, is key to meeting the daunting challenge of feeding a global population that is expected to reach 9.7 billion by the year 2050.
 

Cordone told top agricultural officials from the G-20 member countries that the tools needed to meet this challenge include compatible regulatory systems, an openness to sharing data, and innovative approaches to addressing changing climate and reducing food waste.

“Regulatory systems that are based on science are more effective,” Cordone said. “We cannot afford for decisions to be based solely on public opinion and political expediency. And regulatory systems that are globally compatible are necessary in an age of international trade and interdependency. We cannot let short-term interests impede our long-term global food security.”  

Cordone also noted that open access to data about agriculture and nutrition is an essential tool for achieving long-term sustainable development, both in terms of helping improve economic opportunities for farmers and protecting the health of consumers. 

“We therefore call on our like-minded friends here in the G-20 to recognize that sharing of agriculture and nutrition data is a global public good,” he said, encouraging G-20 members to become partners in the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Initiative (GODAN).

Cordone emphasized the need for greater international collaboration on “climate smart” practices for agricultural production, sharing details about USDA’s recently launched “Building Blocks for Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry.” And, finally, he called on other G-20 members to join the United States in efforts to reduce post-harvest food losses, which squander an estimated 30 percent of the global food supply.

“These needless losses undermine the sustainability of our food production and make it more difficult to combat global malnutrition and hunger,” he said, noting that the United States has committed to cutting its food waste in half in 15 years.