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Chris Policinski: Opportunity. Challenge. Obligation.

President and CEO of Land O'Lakes Inc. delivers keynote speech at UMN College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences Commencement

Chris Policinski: Opportunity. Challenge. Obligation.


Land O’Lakes, Inc. President and CEO Chris Policinski addressed nearly 425 graduates during the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences commencement ceremony on May 11. As one of the greatest growth industries of our time, food and agriculture will shape the future of the planet -- and ensure a bright future for the nearly 10 billion people expected to populate it by 2050.

Policinski brought all 40-plus years of experience in this industry to bear in his message for the future leaders of ag: As the leader himself of a Fortune 200 cooperative with both local and international reach, a farm-to-fork perspective of the industry and a deep connection to its farmer-owners, there are three things Policinski encouraged the students to take with them, wherever their journeys leads.

Below, a few highlights from his keynote on opportunity, challenge and obligation:

• "First, let’s talk about the opportunity. You are about to enter what I believe is the greatest growth industry of our time -- one in which you all can have great careers ... [c]ombining population growth with a growing global middle class means we are going to have to provide up to 70 percent more food to feed this hungry planet by 2050. That’s the great growth opportunity."

• "The 'Grand Challenge?' We’re going to have to do this with very limited resources. At most, we have 12 percent more arable land globally and only about half of it can be brought into production. Beyond that, in just a few years, it’s projected that aggregate demand for water will dramatically outstrip supply."

• "Many of you know those numbers as well, or better, than I do. And I suspect many, if not most of you, also would share my confidence that we can meet this grand challenge. We can grow more with less. We’ve done it before. We’ll do it in the future."

• "It’s you who are going to develop the next great modern business practices to meet this grand challenge. But what are these tools? What are the technologies that will take us to the next milestone? Will it be intense pulsed light technology? Integrated Animal Systems Biology? Aquaponics? Remote sensing? I don’t know. But, you do."

• "Great growth opportunity. Grand challenge. I should be able to end my speech right here. But, I can’t. I can’t because the toughest challenge agriculture and farmers face is not meeting the food needs of the soon-to-be 10 billion, or developing the next great tools and technologies to help them do so. The toughest challenge relates to the answer to this question: Will farmers have the social license to continue to use the modern business practices and leverage modern technologies or not? And the answer to this question leads me to our obligation."

• "It’s agriculture’s chance to tell our story. And it’s a wonderful story. We just need to tell it. So, who’s the 'we?' Well, that brings me to you. That’s it. That’s the obligation I’m talking about. Your obligation is to tell the story about the 'Great Opportunity,' the 'Grand Challenge' and the tools farmers need to use to deliver on both. It’s a simple obligation, but an important one and I hope you’ll embrace it in your personal journeys as you become the leaders of the greatest growth industry of our era."

Media Contact:Brooke Dillon 651.202.1670

About Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Land O'Lakes, Inc., one of America's premier agribusiness and food companies, is a member-owned cooperative with industry leading operations that span the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods. With 2017 annual sales of $13.7 billion, Land O'Lakes is one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 209 on the Fortune 500. Building on a legacy of more than 96 years of operation, Land O'Lakes today operates some of the most respected brands in agribusiness and food production including LAND O LAKES® Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition and WinField® United. The company does business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries. Land O'Lakes, Inc. corporate headquarters are located in Arden Hills, MN.

4001 Lexington Avenue North Arden Hills, MN 55126 | Mailing: P.O. Box 64101 St. Paul, MN 55164-0101 | 651.375.2222