Uniting the value chain to advance racial justice in U.S. agriculture

Voices from the industry | Fall 2020
BY BRANDON HUNNICUTT & MEGAN WEIDNER

Across the United States, we are witnessing a historic movement for racial justice — one that touches each of our lives and industries, including food and agriculture. As the largest multi-stakeholder initiative advancing sustainability in U.S. agriculture, Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture is proud to lend our voice to this movement and stand on the side of racial justice, not only as a sustainability priority, but as a moral imperative. 

With more than 145 member organizations, Field to Market brings together a diverse group of grower organizations; agribusinesses; food, beverage, restaurant and retail companies; conservation groups; universities; and public sector partners to support growers and the supply chain in defining, measuring and advancing the sustainability of food, feed, fiber and fuel production. Our vision for sustainable agriculture is rooted in the belief that no single organization can solve the challenges facing our industry alone — from supporting resilient ecosystems in the face of extreme weather to enhancing farmer livelihoods during challenging economic conditions.

When it comes to racial justice, we believe we cannot move forward in achieving this vision until we address a history of discriminatory and exclusionary practices within our own industry. For more than a century, Black farmers have experienced severe economic barriers and a staggering loss of land due to racially motivated policies and practices. Today, the result is a food and agriculture sector that is less diverse and far from equitable. 

As a multi-stakeholder alliance, Field to Market recognizes the power of our convening platform and the influence our membership’s collective impact holds in driving meaningful action to address these failings. Acknowledging the immense work that must be undertaken to dismantle systemic racism across our industry, Field to Market recently announced the formation of a new board-level Subcommittee on Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion. Our Board will oversee concrete steps to prioritize racial justice within the Alliance’s ongoing sustainability efforts. 

First, we are committing to listening to, learning from and serving alongside organizations that represent Black farmers and other underrepresented communities by ensuring their voices are heard. We will conduct listening sessions with agricultural organizations and academic institutions that represent farmers of color, and we commit to greater racial diversity represented in the makeup of our membership.

We are also committing to amplifying more diverse voices in our events and programming throughout the year. We can all broaden our perspective by participating in critical conversations about racial justice, and we seek to elevate this dialogue to our farmer and industry audiences.


We can all broaden our perspective by participating in critical conversations about racial justice, and we seek to elevate this dialogue to our farmer and industry audiences.


Most importantly, we are intentionally committing to make racial justice a priority within our work. By identifying specific strategies across our membership and programs, we can partner with industry leaders to drive change within the food and agriculture sector.  

We recognize that structural and systemic change requires not only lasting commitment but also continuous effort and accountability. We look forward to sharing progress as we implement these planned actions and seek to contribute to measurable progress, and we invite committed stakeholders to join us. Each of us working in food and agriculture — from growers to agribusinesses to consumer-facing companies — have distinct and important roles to play in ensuring our industry has a bright, equitable and sustainable future. 

Brandon Hunnicutt is chair of Field to Market, a Nebraska farmer and member of the National Corn Growers Association Board. Megan Weidner is vice president of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Bunge. Both are members of the Field to Market Board of Directors Subcommittee on Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion. 
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