Eight of the world’s top foundations have launched AGree, a new effort to tackle long-term food and policy issues facing the country and the world.

The initiative comes at a crucial time, when over the next four decades the world’s population will increase by 2.6 billion or 38%, while beset by limits on easily accessible arable land, increasing pressures on freshwater quality and availability and accelerating environmental degradation.

AGree will provide the resources for research, analysis and dialogue to provide solutions for the environment, energy, rural economies and health.

Leaders of the initiative include Dan Glickman, former secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a former congressman from Kansas; Gary Hirshberg, chairman, president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm; Jim Moseley, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Indiana farmer for more than 40 years; and Emmy Simmons, former assistant administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

“Agriculture issues need to be at the top of the United States’ and world’s agenda, alongside energy, healthcare and national security,” Glickman says. “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.”

“Our current food system is broken for farmers, customers and the environment,” Hirshberg says. “We must move beyond the political knee-jerk defense of traditional agriculture and face the need for change armed with real-world, scientific facts and analysis that AGree can provide.”

“Agriculture has evolved from simply producing food to feed people and now has numerous demands placed on it. As a result, the current discussion on agriculture and food policy is having problems focusing on what is really important; stakeholders talk past one another and often fail to comprehend policy implications beyond a specific sector,” Moseley says. “The key to solving these diverse policy questions is through dialogue across sectors. AGree will promote these conversations and help us find the right balance on these conflicts to meet the broader public demands we are experiencing.”

“We face a world where nearly a billion people already go hungry everyday; those numbers will continue to rise if we do not address underlying issues of quantity and quality of the world’s food systems,” Simmons says. “AGree can help align our domestic policies with the growing needs in developing countries for food security, nutrition and equitable development.”

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

For more information, visit www.foodandagpolicy.org.