North Dakota Farmers Union President Robert Carlson has been elected to lead the World Farmers Organization (WFO) at the first international general assembly held in Stellenbosch, South Africa on Sept. 12-13, 2011. The organization represents the united voice of world farmers and cooperatives.
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As the first president of WFO, Carlson will lead the activities of the international group, representing millions of farmers from every continent except Antarctica. Carlson will also help select staff members following the board’s adoption of a budget and bylaws.
The new WFO represents a very diverse group of farmers in geography, types of farming practices and access to technology. Carlson explained, “Farmers are diverse but whenever farmers get together, they have something in common. No matter where they come from, they all have the same fundamental goals: to make a profit on their farms and to improve the future for their family. If a farmer is profitable, then the community can improve, and this can lift up economies around the globe. Farming is the most important job in the world.”
In the wake of global food security concerns, National Farmers Union joined more than 50 agricultural groups and cooperative organizations from across the world to create the World Farmers Organization (WFO) earlier this year. The organization’s purpose is to bring farmers and cooperatives together to exchange ideas and find solutions to global food security issues.
“We need an international farm organization to lift the power of farmers in the food chain. We buy our farm inputs from international companies and we sell our crops and livestock in an international marketplace. We need to raise our profile in that chain from farm supply to production to retail sales of food. If we don’t take our rightful place, someone else will take it from us. So, we need to work together whenever and wherever we can, and we need to understand and respect each others’ cultures and needs.”
“We want to stress the importance of an international agricultural organization,” said Carlson. “Most issues that farmers face are worldwide in nature, so we must have an international organization to help deal with these issues. Farmers need an international voice,” said Carlson. “It is not enough to have national agricultural organizations. Issues such as market concentration, food safety, and trade are not unique to any one country. Those problems affect all of us, so we must all have a voice in finding solutions to these issues.”
The mission of the World Farmers’ Organization is to bring together national agricultural producer organizations and agricultural producer cooperative organizations to create policies and advocate on world farmers’ behalf, in order to improve the economic situation and livelihood of producers, their families and rural communities.
The improvement of farmers’ livelihoods and the economic viability of rural communities around the world are vital given that farmers’ incomes are often much less than average incomes. The second main objective is to contribute to world food security by facilitating cooperation between member organizations. It is crucial given that world food demand is expected to increase by at least 70% by 2050 and market volatility is on the increase.
Other objectives of the WFO include facilitating the organization of agricultural producers and en- abling them to improve their positioning within the food supply chain. This will help farmers and agri-cooperatives to manage the extreme price volatility and get a better return from the market. The objectives also include ensuring coherence with other agriculture related activities, such as forestry, aquaculture, environment, trade, research and education. Finally, the organization aims to encourage farmers’ involvement in sustainable rural development, the environment and new arising challenges, such as climate change and the renewal of generations.”
As the newly elected president, Carlson and the members of the board will represent the WFO in upcoming events including world food security, climate change and sustainability.
The new organization will be headquartered in Rome, Italy. You may visit their website at http://www.worldfarmersorganisation.com.
Listen to audio from World Farmers Organization