ACES hosts US – German Forum on the Future of Agriculture

farmers from Germany and U.S. by tractors

Farmers from two areas of the world – the United States Corn Belt and Eastern Germany – converged in Urbana-Champaign as part of a transatlantic exchange program towards a sustainable agricultural future.

The College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) hosted the 16-member group – eight members from the U.S. and eight members from Germany – who had been meeting virtually for several months as part of the U.S. - German Forum for the Future of Agriculture. The program is funded by the Aspen Institute Germany in cooperation with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as the implementing partner.

Bringing together stakeholders from relevant regions on both sides of the Atlantic, the forum addresses the challenges of protecting natural resources and mitigating climate change as well as developing rural regions with social and political cohesion. Although primarily farmers, the cohort includes stakeholders from academia, business, and research to add additional perspectives.

The ACES Office of International Programs and the European Union Center worked together with the Aspen Institute to create a comprehensive three-day program including educational and cultural activities in central Illinois.  

Because the development and publication of policy recommendations is a central part of the project, a highlight of the program was an ACES-hosted roundtable discussion with Sen. Paul Faraci (IL-52), Sen. Chapin Rose (IL-51), and Molly Hammond, Illinois Deputy State Director for Rural Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture. The group also met with the Illinois Department of Agriculture’s International Marketing Department in Springfield.

The group toured several relevant and innovative campus sites, including the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) greenhouses, the Solar Farm 2.0, and the Energy Farm/IFarm. Off-campus, the group visited local farms and ag-related businesses.

The packed program included several opportunities for the cohort to iron out policy recommendations for both U.S and Germany, and for transatlantic cooperation. These recommendations will be finalized in the next two months and presented in a virtual forum on Sept. 27. The public is invited to participate in this important dialogue.

Download a one-page release on the U.S. – German Forum for the Future of Agriculture. 

For a personal reflection on the event, read the related blogpost on Voices of ACES