Expanded programs and new partners in 2017 were the keys to an increase in outreach and success of the Farm Journal Foundation (FJF), our namesake charity. The 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, started seven years ago, is dedicated to protecting agriculture’s ability to feed the world with the use of modern technology and public policy.
The mission of FJF is achieved through engagement, education and advocacy with farmers, policymakers and millennials. Diverse stakeholders, both outside and inside agriculture, are engaged through platforms such as the Farmers Feeding the World program, HungerU and the Farm Journal Policy Dialogue.
In addition to donations from Farm Journal, funding for FJF programs comes from farmers and individuals as well as the National Corn Growers Association, agribusinesses and philanthropic organizations.
The Farmers Feeding the World (FFW) program engages farmers and ranchers from across the U.S. to tell the story of agriculture’s leadership role in feeding the world. More than 50 leaders from 16 states provide educational outreach to federal policy-makers, the broader agricultural sector and grass-top stakeholder groups in their states.
FFW Farmers have held more than 300 face-to-face meetings with national-level policymakers since the program was established in 2014. Through a consistent presence on Capitol Hill, FFW Farmers and policy-makers engage in an ongoing dialogue about the central role of and tools necessary for U.S. agriculture to assume leadership in achieving global food and nutritional security.
The farm team efforts directly contributed to the passage of the Global Food Security Act—90% of the offices of the House of Representatives who met with FFW Farmers voted in favor of this important legislation.
In 2017, FFW Farmers focused their conversations with policymakers on the 2018 farm bill and how to improve the ability of USDA and land-grant universities to help smallholder farmers in developing countries become better farmers.
FFW Farmers also engage in a robust press strategy. That includes placing local editorials timed to coincide with key moments, for example soliciting support for producers impacted by the 2017 wildfires. Many are active on social media, engaging consumers and folks outside of agriculture.
HungerU is an educational and advocacy program that engages and educates students on issues related to the role of modern agriculture in feeding the world. In the past four years, HungerU has reached more than 3 million students.
The HungerU experience offers various ways for students to engage and learn about hunger and modern agriculture’s role in feeding the world. Those include a mobile exhibit, interactive HungerU Challenge app, classroom engagements and campus-level volunteer opportunities. The diversity of engagement opportunities means students can personalize their learning journey, and many choose to become part of the HungerU social media and advocacy community.
The centerpiece of HungerU is a mobile exhibit that travels around the country providing fun, dynamic learning experiences for students. This past fall, the HungerU Tour traveled to the Minnesota State Fair, Minneapolis Academy for Agriculture and Science, University of Minnesota, Concordia University, Macalester College, UC Davis, San Francisco State, Fresno State, UC Riverside, UCLA, CalTech and the National FFA Convention. The tour will continue into the winter and spring with a special engagement planned for UC Berkley and a tour of middle and high schools in the St. Louis metro region.
HungerU in the Classroom is a guest lecture series that deepens the dialogue about global food and agriculture systems. Through HungerU in the classroom, FJF partners with a variety of subject matter experts to create and deliver curriculum to key influencer students, including future journalists, policymakers, nutritionists and scientists.
During the 2017 Fall Tour, HungerU in the Classroom leveraged the work of the FJF Policy Dialogue authors to frame class lectures highlighting the critical importance of agriculture research and Extension. They also worked with the FFW leader in California, Jesse Larios, to educate students about the role of modern agriculture in feeding the world. Beyond the classroom, HungerU is livestreamed and promoted through social media channels, making it available to other students.
HungerU in the Classroom events were held at the University of Minnesota, Macalester College and University of California–Riverside.
Highlights from the five-week 2017 Fall HungerU Tour include:
- 66,000-plus students engaged
- 5,000-plus meals donated
- 500-plus students took part in HungerU in the Classroom
- 7,000-plus letters sent by students to Capitol Hill, supporting agriculture’s role in feeding the world
- 1.2 million-plus students engaged through social media
The FJF Policy Dialogue convenes global thought leaders with key policy influencers to facilitate discussion and critical thinking around the most important issues framing food and agriculture policy today. The organization’s most recent efforts are three peer-reviewed papers and related briefings that helped to kick off a much needed dialogue on how U.S. agriculture can maintain its comparative strength, share its extraordinary knowledge and tools and drive economic growth and stability. This body of work focuses on the critical importance of support and investment in agriculture research, development and Extension.
All three papers are available on the FJF website: www.FarmJournal Foundation.org.
As a result of the Policy Dialogue work, FJF was asked to provide written and verbal testimony during the Congressional Hearing on the next farm bill on several key topics including agricultural research.