“Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, and former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was this year’s lecturer for the 11th Annual George McGovern Lecture sponsored by the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome (USUN). ”
Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, and former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was this year’s lecturer for the 11th Annual George McGovern Lecture sponsored by the U.S. Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome (USUN). Dr. Merrigan spoke to an audience of over 160 people at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on October 16th.
The George McGovern Lecture Series was established 11 years ago by USUN in partnership with FAO to honor the legacy of George McGovern and the contribution he made to the fight against world hunger. George McGovern was a U.S. Senator and former Ambassador to USUN Rome. Senator McGovern’s commitment to ending world hunger has had a considerable impact on food and agriculture development policy around the world.
Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, was a natural choice to further George McGovern’s legacy, particularly as this year is The Year of Family Farming. During Merrigan’s time as Deputy Secretary of USDA, she managed the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative to highlight the critical connection between farmers and consumers and to support local and regional food systems that increase economic opportunity in rural America.
Dr. Merrigan’s remarks at FAO focused on similar ideals; she emphasized the importance of local and regional agriculture, while explaining how our past achievements and new ways of thinking affect our future approaches. Merrigan challenged the perception of American agriculture as focusing on large, corporate farms by noting the many small-scale, family farms and enlarging the understanding of American agriculture both domestically and internationally.
Merrigan noted the achievements made in American agriculture and the progress that has been made on world hunger goals in recent years. She cited a recent assessment on world hunger, stating that “the numbers are down.” Regarding the future of agriculture production, Merrigan noted that she does “believe there is room for organic and regional agriculture” adding that diversity is a “good strategy” and should also be a “core value.” She stressed the importance of diversity in people, seed, agricultural production regimes and ideas going forward. Dr. Merrigan shared these visions, values and goals, stating that there’s “much more we can do, but it’s a very good start.”