The U.S.-German Forum Future Agriculture, initiated by the Aspen Institute Germany in cooperation with implementing partner, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, aims to promote transatlantic dialogue on common challenges for the field of agriculture and rural regions and pave the way for a more sustainable agricultural future.
Agriculture is of critical importance for the economy, society, the environment and for the future. The sector plays a major role, both in protecting natural resources and mitigating climate change as well as promoting the development of rural regions and social and political cohesion. As major importers and exporters of agricultural products, both Germany and the United States are central to shaping a sustainable agricultural future. However, longstanding conflicts, misunderstandings, and stereotyping in the field of agriculture prevent the U.S. and Germany from assuming a joint global leadership role under the umbrella of the transatlantic partnership, when they should be natural partners given many shared challenges and their time-honored relationship.
By bringing together stakeholders from relevant regions on both sides of the Atlantic, the forum addresses precisely these challenges and invests in transatlantic exchange in rural communities. The two-year project (2022-2024) consists of two cohorts of 16 participants each, who will come together for virtual and in-person exchange. The project is primarily geared toward involvement of farmers, with several other key agricultural stakeholders from academia, research, and business joining the groups. In addition to addressing the social, economic and political relevance of agriculture for rural areas, each program year will focus on specific regions, agricultural sectors, and a core theme:
- The first cohort, which focused on climate, engaged participants active in arable farming in eastern Germany and the U.S.’ Corn Belt. This group met in-person in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois in June 2023.
- The second cohort, which will focus on digitalization as the core topic, will bring together participants active in cattle and dairy farming from northwestern Germany and the Northeastern U.S. This group will meet in-person in Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein in 2024.
Through an exchange of experience, the opportunity to visit best practices on site, and the formation of new transatlantic networks, this project will promote innovative solutions for a sustainable rural and agricultural future and strengthen transatlantic relations overall.
The Aspen Institute Germany thanks the participants of the 2023 cohort: AJ Blair (Blair Farm LLC); Nancy B. Brannaman (Paddy Ridge Farm); Chandler Bruns (Precision Planting); Dr. Alyssa Cho (Bayer Carbon Program); Christian Egel (Thuringian State Office for Agriculture and Rural Areas); Dr. Thomas Gäbert (Agrargenossenschaft Trebbin eG); Hans-Heinrich Grünhagen (Grünhagen Farm); Adam Joseph Henkel (Self-employed farmer); Juliane Horsch (Klim GmbH); Dr. Björn Küstermann (Landgut Krosigk GmbH); Dr. Alex Lindsey (The Ohio State University); Marie Saudhof (Saxony-Anhalt Rural Youth Association e.V.; Nelben Farm); Florian Schiller (German Agricultural Society DLG e.V.); Donald Schnitker (Schnitker Family Farms LLC); Dr. Carmen Ugarte (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign); Erik Unger (Self-employed farmer; Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology).
The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany, funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).