NADINE FOUGERON, Spokeswoman for World Agriculture Day

Nadine Fougeron_World Agriculture Day

A mother of four and a businessperson, Nadine Fougeron is also a world-class award-winning athlete. Co-founder of World Agriculture Day, launched on June 11, 2016, Nadine Fougeron choose to wear the colours of World Agriculture Day for the 2016 Triathlon World Championships in Mexico.

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The following is her full speech for the launch of World Agriculture Day on June 11, 2016. This event was held at the Agriculture Museum in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa.

Nadine Fougeron

Welcome to the first-ever World Agriculture Day! Three elements influence our daily lives: air, water and earth. And it is from the Earth that we take much of our food. Every day. Like many among you, I am very careful about what finds its way onto my and my family’s plates.

How often do we hear “get some exercise and eat healthy”? We may feel guilty about not doing enough and about making poor dietary choices. When this happens, food is no longer a pleasure, it’s stressful!

In the same way, we are overwhelmed by information about agriculture and food. But is it information or misinformation? There is so much controversy. We wonder about where our food comes from. What should we do? What should we think? Have our food guides become outdated?

Then, agriculture becomes suspicious. And the paradox is that while so many people are worrying about what they’re eating, over 800 million are desperate to eat anything at all. Our heads spin. And this is how we end up making bad food choices. It’s time we reassure parents and all people.

In all this confusion, we take our food for granted, as if it just fell into our laps. But will this be the case in the near future? No one can be sure.

We all know that climate change is a real threat. Agriculture -and therefore our food- will inevitably be affected. And that’s without even mentioning the grabbing of fertile farmland for urban development.

As a society, we must become aware of this reality so we may take tangible action for our food security, for healthy and quality foods and for a clean environment. We must act for our agriculture. For us, and for future generations.

LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS Many people want to contribute to quality food and even food autonomy. People are looking for solutions. Some are growing gardens in their yards or in community spaces, while others take part in urban gardening or school programs.

But by doing so, people lose sight of what is most crucial: large-scale agriculture. And its millions of acres being sown each year. This agriculture feeds the millions each day.

People talk about prevention as the best way of staying healthy. But isn’t a well balanced diet the best health insurance? And to get these healthy foods, don’t we need healthy agriculture? A smart agriculture, based on science and knowledge?

Of course, agriculture needs technology, but it especially needs your support and encouragement. Without repeating the old cliché of the activist farmer, let’s remember that agriculture is not a financially easy sector.

Isn’t it farmers who have the highest rates of suicide? In other words, it’s not all pride and joy! Let’s support local products and short distribution chains. Let’s give back to agriculture the honour it deserves.

AN OCCASION TO CELEBRATE And from there comes our idea of launching World Agriculture Day. It is meant to be an occasion to celebrate all those who work in agriculture. Our agriculture.

The issue is no longer good or bad agricultural practices. Rather, the time has come for us to recognize and trust in science, research, new technologies and the knowledge of the agricultural sector.

We have understood this and adopted it in other fields. For instance, we trust medical science and all the technologies that make our lives worry-free and comfortable. No one would want to go back to a time when every other child died at birth!

The same should go for agriculture. The science is there and it has been for a long time. Today, modern farmers use such advanced technology that they lose sight of the basics. Satellites, robots and micro-processors are commonly found in the agricultural arsenal, while armies of scientists work toward a sustainable agriculture that is able to meet the ever-growing demand for healthy food.

This is the only way we can optimistically imagine the future of our agriculture. And, in doing so, the only way we can imagine food security.

Would we really go back to an antiquated agriculture? An agriculture so easily ravaged by crop disease. This happened in Ireland in the mid-19th century and caused the deaths of nearly a million people. Of course, we do not want this!

It is, however, very alarming to see retrograde actions being taken and laws being voted that counter common agronomic sense. Is it by lack of knowledge? Or by misguided influence?

A FIRST IN HUMAN HISTORY Our goal at AGyours is to bring all the peoples of the world together around one vision. Feeding the planet with an abundance of quality food for all, while also protecting our environment. Agriculture is everyone’s business. We must make a collective effort and trust the true agricultural experts.

World Agriculture Day, which we launch today, is a first in human history. We hope this annual event and all the related celebrations will reconnect the world’s people. The successive waves of optimism will foster a sense of belonging to our planet Earth. And will reassure our young people, in dire need of reassurance!

As a neutral organization, AGyours is committed to building a bridge between agriculture and consumers, between farmers and the people. AGyours Group’s wide-reaching agricultural and agri-food expertise, and its extensive network of experts, will encourage the world’s citizens to refocus on true agriculture. A smart agriculture, based on science and farming experts’ knowledge.

Because agriculture belongs to YOU !

I would like to end by showing you an emblematic video for World Agriculture Day, produced by AGyours International.

To ensure our babies are born healthy, we look to science and the knowledge of the medical world. For them to develop properly and stay healthy, children need access to good food grown by an agriculture that is also in good health. Only smart agriculture based on science and knowledge can truly meet these needs.

Nadine Fougeron

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