(Photo by Gabe Licht)
Clay Central-Everly alum B.J. Brugman returned to his alma mater Wednesday afternoon, along with Dr. Maynard Hogberg and Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, dean of the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Hogberg, chairman of the animal science department, specifically addressed the priorities and challenges of the agriculture industry.
"What we do really should be focused on having a direct impact on society and there isn't anything that has a more direct impact on society than the food you eat every day," Hogberg said.
Hogberg noted that one in six people throughout the world have deficient diets.
"These numbers aren't getting better; they're getting worse," he said. "We have an obligation to look at this long-term. ... We want to help those people get their lives to the point where they can feed themselves and keep the price reasonable for them so they can feed themselves."
Over the next 40 years, the world population is expected to increase from 7 billion to more than 9.3 billion. Coupled with a growing middle class worldwide, food production will need to increase by at least 70 to 80 percent to meet the need.
"How we are going to do that is a big challenge," Hogberg said. "We can't farm more land. ... The answer is going to be how we use technology and science to do a better, more efficient job to make better use of the resources we have. ... We will develop a lot of that here because we have the base knowledge and understanding and we will supply that and transfer that to the rest of the world."
In addition to food production, agriculture is addressing how to transition from petroleum-based industries to biofuel-based industry.
"We need to find alternatives and we are on the cutting edge of really looking at what we can use for alternatives to create more energy and fiber in the future," Hogberg said.
Those alternatives have yet to be fully discovered.
"I'm pretty sure it's not going to be corn," Hogberg said. "It's not efficient enough. That's going to be our challenge in the future to make this work."
As the demand for food and fuel increases, those in agriculture still have an obligation to maintain the quality of the environment, Hogberg said.
Furthermore, those in the industry are being asked to provide safer food.
"We still have the most safe food supply of anywhere in the world," Hogberg said. "Is it perfect? No. But we try to make it perfect and everyone expects us to make it perfect. How are we going to do that? With science and technology, we're going to make it better."
In closing, Hogberg implored his audience to get involved.
"To do all of this requires the use of science and technology," he said. "That's why it's important to have the next generation, you, come through and have that passion to be part of this great agriculture industry we have, find your passion in that and apply that to finding solutions to our problems."