Production agriculture is now the most trusted industry in the United States, according to Alltech chief executive, Dr. Mark Lyons, who has been commenting on the long-term impact of Covid-19 on farming and food.
Lyons is participating in the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference which is taking place online this week (June 22-24).
Lyons said: “This was the headline result of a recent public poll. Food retailing came in second place with the restaurant sector third in line.
“Farming must break out of the world’s commodities markets. But the good news is that Irish agriculture is already doing a good job in this regard.”
Technology in agriculture
According to Lyons, technology will play an increasing role within Irish and global agriculture over the coming decade.
He explained: “Automation will help solve the labour challenge that is already confronting the farming industries in so many countries. But this is only part of the story.
“Greater access to data will drive agriculture forward in so many other ways over the coming years.
“At one level, access to greater levels of information will allow farmers to improve the efficiency of their businesses.
“But improved data capture will also help to deliver greater provenance, regarding the food produced on-farm. And this will impact in a very positive manner at the level of the primary producer.”
According to the Alltech CEO, the farming and food sector has a great story to tell the public at large.
He added: “Dairy, meat and eggs are a selection of the most sustainable products available in the world today.
“Whereas the roll-out of technology will take place in a very assured manner, I feel that agriculture must be much more proactive in telling consumers about the good news relating to the tremendous food and drink that is made available to them on a daily basis.”
Pat Charlton, Alltech’s vice president of Europe, agreed. He commented: “The opportunity is now for farming and food to communicate with policy makers and opinion formers around the world… not in a year or so.
“Consumers have felt threatened by Covid-19. As a result, they have more fully recognised the role of farmers and food processers in their lives. They may not feel so threatened when their concerns relating to the pandemic have subsided.
“Social media is playing a key role in shaping consumer attitudes across the board. Farming and food must respond accordingly.
“It’s a case of communicating with policy makers, bloggers and influencers now,” Charlton added.
“Covid has thrown up many challenges for agriculture around the world. But it has also given businesses an opportunity to plan strategically for the future.”