President and CEO Rodney Ferguson delivered remarks at the film premiere of the Concordia Campaign for a Sustainable Global Food Supply, which features Winrock’s Wallace Center and Wallace Center Director Dr. John Fisk.
“Winrock supports sustainable agriculture in the United States. We have commodity support programs, technical assistance programs all over the world. We also have thriving practices in environmental sustainability including clean energy as well as civil society development.
I grew up on a small farm in rural Alabama…so I’m very familiar with the challenges small farmers face — of improving your own livelihood, trying to do what’s right environmentally, trying to feed a community. It’s daunting.
Winrock’s Wallace Center is all about working with small farmers in the United States to improve their lot across the board — to improve their ability to make a living, to improve livelihoods, to improve access to markets and to improve those markets.
That’s the part we don’t talk about as much. But the magic of Winrock’s Wallace Center is we focus on a systemic look at the smallholder agriculture market horizontally and vertically. We help farmers in the country access markets, improve their practices, understand and navigate a regulatory environment that was not built for them. It was built for industrial agriculture. It’s something that any small business owner understands intuitively -— that the system was never built for them and yet they’re expected to master that system if they are to succeed in creating economic value for their families. That’s what Winrock’s Wallace Center does, among other things.
We partnered with our colleagues at Concordia on the Campaign for a Sustainable Global Food Supply. This is very close to our hearts because we often talk about international development — Winrock is unique in that we take the international part very seriously. For us, international means everything from Little Rock, Arkansas, to the rural areas of Indonesia and Bangladesh.
The problems facing small farmers all over the world are alarmingly similar to those that American farmers face.”