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USDA Asks Public How To Foster 'Ag Coexistence'

Agency wants public to weigh in: What's the best way to help all agriculturalists work together?

Published on: Nov 7, 2013

The U.S. Department of Agriculture posed an interesting question in the Federal Register Wednesday: How can stakeholders in diverse production systems collaborate to further agricultural coexistence?

It's a mouthful, but simply put it's a question that's becoming increasingly important as ag systems diversify; some farmers opt to grow crops using organic methods, while others have selected genetically modified varieties for their growing programs. And lately, no one can seem to agree on which is "right."

But the committee that first brought the question – and larger, underlying issue – forward, says all of agriculture must work together to meet the needs of customers around the world, and there is no one way to farm.

Agency wants public to weigh in: Whats the best way to help all agriculturalists work together?
Agency wants public to weigh in: What's the best way to help all agriculturalists work together?

The group, USDA's Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century Agriculture, active from 2003-2008 and revived in 2011, put the question front and center at a meeting last November that culminated in the release of its report, "Enhancing Coexistence: A Report of the AC21 to the Secretary of Agriculture."

In the report, the committee suggested that USDA seek out ways producers can collaborate on understanding biotechnology and different growing methods. It made recommendations in five major areas: potential compensation mechanisms, stewardship, education and outreach, research, and seed quality.

The question released this week was largely centered on the area of education and outreach, according to the Federal Register.

Comments can be submitted until Jan. 3, 2014. Following the comment period, USDA intends to hold a public forum to discuss input provided by commenters and further explore ways to implement the recommendations in the AC21 report on enhancing coexistence.