WASHINGTON – Eight of the world’s leading foundations launched AGree on May 3, which is a new initiative intended to tackle long-term food and agriculture policy issues confronting the nation and the world as the population continues to grow and resources become more constrained.

AGree is funded by the Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and The Walton Family Foundation.

Over the next four decades, there will be 2.6 billion more people on Earth to feed — a 38 percent population increase from today — in addition to the 925 million people who currently suffer under-nutrition or hunger. At the same time, the world faces a limited amount of easily accessible arable land, increasing pressures on freshwater quality and availability and accelerating environmental degradation.

Best-in-class research, comprehensive analysis and cross-sector dialogue — resources productively brought together for the first time under the AGree initiative — will be required to find solutions to these challenges. AGree will fill a crucial void in current agriculture research and discussions that frequently do not consider solutions across multiple sectors, such as environment, energy, rural economies and health, its founders said.

The mission of AGree is to nurture dialogue among diverse opinions on agriculture issues. Leaders of the initiative include Dan Glickman, former Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton and a former congressman from Kansas for 18 years; Gary Hirshberg, chairman, president and “CE-Yo” of Stonyfield Farm; Jim Moseley, former deputy secretary at the USDA under President George W. Bush and Indiana farmer for more than 40 years; and, Emmy Simmons, former assistant administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade at the US Agency for International Development and a board member for several organizations engaged in international agriculture and global development.

“Agriculture issues need to be at the top of the United States’ and world’s agenda, alongside energy, healthcare and national security,” Glickman said. “AGree will elevate the agriculture and food policy conversation. We will make it clear to leaders and policymakers that, while difficult, solving food and agriculture issues is of utmost importance and can help solve other pressing problems including public health and the need for economic growth,” he said.

The past 20 years have created competition and division among stakeholders on priorities, such as environment, production, economy and nutrition — creating an impasse as lawmakers try to develop food and agriculture policies here in the US and abroad, a news release states. But the world can no longer afford to stay disjointed and uncompromising, shying away from the hard decisions necessary to address these problems.

AGree is uniquely qualified to foster these necessary answers by starting with an open mind to new solutions and by convening a diverse set of stakeholders including conventional and organic farmers, ranchers, nutritionists, energy experts, environmentalists, financiers, international aid veterans and public health specialists, the news release adds.