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Thursday, May 24

International farmers to discuss global ag concerns at Illinois event

Six farmers from five countries will talk about technology and global agricultural challenges in a panel discussion Friday, May 25, at the Rock Island Holiday Inn in Illinois.

Panelists include farmers Rodney Kili of Kenya, Patience Koku of Nigeria, V. Ravichandran of India, Andrew Osmond of United Kingdom, Vanessa Kummer of North Dakota and Danny Murphy of Mississippi. Dr. Sam Crowell, an agricultural advisor with the Economic and Business Affairs Bureau at the US Department of State, will serve as moderator. The event begins at 9:30 am CDT (3:30 PM local time), and will be livestreamed on Facebook.

The discussion culminates a week-long Cornell Alliance for Science communications training course for some 40 farmers from 14 nations. The course is helping them to gain skills that will amplify their voices in the global debate around agricultural biotechnology.

This is the second year that the Alliance is leading the popular international program, which offers farmers training in media engagement, public speaking and other communications skills. 

"People who are very disengaged from the realities of agriculture like to talk about what farmers 'need' or 'want,' but we rarely hear from farmers themselves," said Sarah Evanega, director of the Cornell Alliance for Science. "This course will empower those who are actually engaged in feeding the world by giving them the skills to champion their own interests."

Course participants include farmers from Argentina, Denmark, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Many of them are small-holder farmers who are waiting for their governments to approve GM crops.

"This is a rare opportunity for farmers to engage with their colleagues in the US and other nations to exchange ideas for addressing their shared concerns," Evanega said. 

The course included a field trip to the Deere & Company World Headquarters in Moline and a tour of Cinnamon Ridge Farms, a family-owned eastern Iowa farm that raises dairy cows, beef cattle, chicken and pigs, and also produces milk, cheese, corn, soybeans and winter wheat. 

The Cornell Alliance for Science is a global communications and training initiative that was established in 2014. It operates internationally from its base at Cornell University.

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