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Ag Leaders Discuss Industry in St. Louis

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – More than 250 agricultural leaders from twenty countries have gathered in St. Louis to attend a meeting on the future of the agri-food system.

The World Agricultural Forum's First Regional Congress stems from the Forum's controversial meeting in St. Louis last year.

The Chairman and President of the Forum, Dr. Leonard Guarraia, says there are challenges facing the Americas, including terrorism, world hunger and rural development: "How are we going to deal with these issues in a way to give hope to the hopeless and to provide civil societies with opportunities, not looking at it as the rural and the poor as someone to exploit but rather someone who should be mined for their riches and given the opportunities?"

Guarraia says the recommendations that come out of the two-and-a-half day Congress will be published and distributed around the world. The World Agricultural Forum's First Regional Congress is focusing on the Americas, where much of the globe's farmland is located and food is produced. The Chairman of the Forum's advisory board, former New Zealand Prime Minister Ray Bolger, told participants Sunday that they must tackle several issues, including rural hunger. "The Americas has such enormous natural resources that it's failure to meet the needs of all its people is difficult to explain, it can't be justified and must be addressed," Bolger said. Bolger says there are other storm clouds on the agricultural horizon, such as a potential water shortage in parts of the world and the possibility of global warming.