When I received an offer to intern with Land O’Lakes, Inc., I had to stop and do a double take. For a guy who has grown up in the beef world, the idea of a “dairy thing” was a little out of my comfort zone to say the least. I accepted the offer because the program sounded great, but I was unsure of what all of my beef friends would think of me when I accepted a position to intern with “the butter people.” Growing up I had become accustomed to making jokes about dairy cows compared to beef cattle, and in my part of the world the dairy people were the “weird” ones.
When I share with people that I interned with Land O’Lakes this summer, their first comment is always “Oh yeah, the butter company!” While we are “the butter company,” that butter company is one that is a farmer-owned cooperative, which is something I have always found unique.
Growing up on my family’s hobby farm in rural southeast Wisconsin, I developed my passion for agriculture at a young age. My summers were dedicated to prepping show pigs and cattle for our county fair, and the rest of the year I cared for my family’s home-farrowed swine and beef herd. Through long hours of work, often after a tiring sports practice or late at night when I wanted to be doing just about anything else, I gained an appreciation for agriculture and the responsibility farmers have for the people they feed.
Nestled between the Nsere and Weruweru rivers and on the high mesas surrounding Mount Kilimanjaro lies Two Bridges Farm. Fields sprawl a vast 316 acres, with tall, proud coffee plants swaying in the breeze. As we walked into the main office, we were greeted by the sight of women in bright skirts carrying giant bags of coffee beans on their heads.
In February, we launched the Cultivate Community competition. Open to all college students in the United States, it tasked students and student groups with submitting an idea that and helps feed the surrounding community, no matter how big or small.
Wheels up for Africa! The 2019 class of students chosen to participate in the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security™ Program depart Friday, June 14, to learn more about agricultural practices in Tanzania and South Africa. The prime focus of the trip is to learn more about the challenge of global hunger and to share the program’s mission of ending food insecurity.
Serving as a mentor for the Global Food Challenge with Land O'Lakes has been the most rewarding professional and personal experience of my entire career at the University of Minnesota. When Land O'Lakes approached the University of Minnesota, we were thrilled to find how far-reaching this experience would be, not only across this campus but across the nation. Working with colleagues from our peer institutions to find new ways to efficiently feed the world was, and will continue to be, transformative.
Peri Warren’s grandfather and great-grandfather were farmers. But as she got older, the distance between her and agriculture grew. However, she got another taste of ag during her time as a 2017 Emerging Leader with the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge. This internship included spending time on a smallholder coffee farm in Tanzania; visiting blueberry, hazelnut and hop operations in Oregon; and having a discussion with a USDA official in Washington, D.C., about food deserts and food injustice.
Everyone knows that agriculture doesn’t look the way it did 100 years go. But, even in the past 10 years, technology has changed the way food is grown —if not at the speed of light, then at a speed nobody quite anticipated.
It’s estimated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that one in eight Americans can be defined as food insecure, meaning they lack consistent access to food that is needed for an active, healthy lifestyle. With nearly 40 million Americans across the country struggling, it can seem like an insurmountable challenge for one person to tackle and make a difference.