2014 Is Officially The International Year of Family Farming
Food justice has been a hot topic for quite some time, but, come 2014, the issue will have more worldwide media attention than ever before. This is because the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) will go into effect January 1, as declared by the United Nations.
Food Tank, the “Food Think Tank,” will be primarily responsible for raising awareness around the year’s events. I caught up with energetic (and busy) co-founder and President Danielle Nierenberg just before her flight—she spent the weekend speaking at ECHO, an agriculture research center in Fort Myers that is partnering with Food Tank—to discuss plans for the upcoming year.
“Our ultimate goal is to highlight all the things family farmers do in addition to food production,” Nierenberg explains. “We don’t always realize the various roles [family farmers] play, from protecting and enhancing social stability to ensuring nutrition security and mitigating climate change.” Impressive, to be sure; but even to me, an Oberlin College grad with a BA in Environmental Studies, this sounds like a tall order in terms of public comprehension.
“Well, we recently released a video on the importance of family farming [click here to watch]. It has a lot of gravitas,” she laughs, “but I think the next will be lighter—just as impactful, though.” Food Tank is working with Greener Media on these projects, hoping that powerful partnerships will help an estimated 400 million family farmers gain attention and support over the course of 2014. The way information is communicated is especially important in this campaign because IYFF is not about preaching to the choir. “We need everyone on board if we’re going to mitigate climate change and cultivate the next generation of agriculture leaders,” Nierenberg reminds me.
Why should we care about agriculture leaders? After helping to boost the quality of our food, and the health of local and global economies, small- and medium-size family farmers can be set back by just a spell of bad weather or untenable bank loans. Maybe it’s time to do ourselves a solid, and pay attention to the research reports—and more chewable infographics—released by the FAO this coming year. After all, as Nierenberg puts it: “Farmers are entrepreneurs, teachers and stewards who are protecting ecosystem services, enhancing biodiversity and creating jobs.” Why not show some love?
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