Wagner Farm director embarks on world agribusiness tour
Todd Price, director of Wagner Farm, is shown on Thursday, March 7, 2013, at the farm in Glenview. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 15, 2013 6:14AM
GLENVIEW — The director of Wagner Farm in Glenview is going places by participating in an agriculture program in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and overseas to observe world food systems.
Todd Price is among 30 members of the 2014 Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program’s seminar on “Economics & the Marketplace” recently held in Chicago.
The three-day event featured visits to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and CME Group.
Much of the seminar focused on agricultural economics, the global food industry and government regulations.
“I came away with a better understanding of the consumers’ part in agriculture. It’s important for Wagner Farm visitors to know how food is produced, which some take for granted,” Price said.
Owned by Glenview Park District, 19-acre Wagner Farm is one of the last working dairy farms in Cook County.
The farm is open to the public for recreation and education in agriculture, animal husbandry, farm heritage and conservation.
“This seminar helped me better understand the scope of agriculture, so when students and Rotary clubs visit the farm I can talk about modern agriculture,” Price said.
Don Norton, president and CEO of Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation that sponsored the program, has not decided yet where the members will visit overseas next year.
“The group has so far has been to the Ukraine, South America, Australia and India,” Norton said.
“We want to expose them to world agriculture and take them out of their comfort zones,” said Norton, recalling a tour of New Deli, India, where street poverty and lack of food were witnessed up close.
“We saw the challenges there of bringing agricultural products to market and feeding people. One-third of vegetables in India rot before getting to market,” Norton said.
On Sunday, Price and members of Agricultural Leadership traveled to Washington, D.C. for a week of education sessions on agriculture regulations, the U.S. Farm Bill and alternative energies.
They also will meet with elected officials of the House Committee on Agriculture, he said.
Norton said people selected for Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program represented a broad range of professionals in agribusiness.
“It’s really a program for leadership development without a lot of how-to farm information. We talk more about developing a thirst for knowledge and leadership,” Norton said.
He also said Price was selected because of his leadership role at Wagner Farm as an educator.
“Todd is really on the front lines of telling the important story of agriculture and how it feeds the world. He’s where farming intersects with the general public,” Norton said.
“Most Americans are removed from farming, and most think food comes from the Jewel food store, but there’s the whole of planting, harvesting and marketing.”
Norton also explained the public should be aware of the basic importance of a strong agricultural.
“There’s a real danger to us if we lose our competitive advantage in the world in our ability to feed ourselves and having safe food to eat.
“We’re blessed and fortunate in this country if we continue to maintain a healthy agricultural sector,” he said.
Started in 1982, the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation sponsors programs to train people in the agricultural industry in modern farming, environmental stewardship, financing and marketing.