Father, Son Among Experts on Challenge of Feeding World

Father-and-son food experts will bring their “kitchen-table” discussions to a global food panel to be held at the University of Guelph.

Prof. Brady Deaton Jr., Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics, and his father, Brady Deaton Sr., chancellor emeritus of the University of Missouri, will speak during the panel called “Feeding the World: A Nine-Billion-Person Challenge.”

The discussion will take place Feb. 20, 4 to 6 p.m., at Rozanski Hall. The panel is part of the tenth annual Universities Fighting World Hunger summit.

Both Deatons were invited individually by panel moderator and former president Alastair Summerlee. They will be joined by Ajay Markanday, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization; Katharine Schmidt, Food Banks Canada; and Prof. Sylvain Charlebois, Department of Marketing and Consumer Studies.

The younger Deaton has studied food production, rural development and environmental quality.

His father has also been heavily involved in food production research, having worked as a professor in rural and international development and as chair of the University of Missouri’s agricultural economics department.

Deaton Sr. was appointed chancellor of the University of Missouri in 2004. As chancellor, he was named by United States President Barack Obama in 2011 to chair the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development. The board provides advice on food and agriculture in developing countries to the U.S. government agency responsible for international development.

It was from his parents that Guelph’s Deaton first developed an interest in food and agriculture.

“We’ve had these discussions with my whole family throughout my life; it’s something my parents, sister and brothers would discuss around the dinner table,” he said.

“Both my parents worked on issues of rural economic development at the field level in the United States as well as in developing countries. Their knowledge is informed by research and experience. We still often discuss these ideas, even today.”

The younger Deaton lived previously in Lesotho in southern Africa, where he studied rotational grazing, water provision and sheep marketing.

He also co-ordinated a project to improve water and sewer infrastructure for low-income homeowners in rural Kentucky.

He first appeared on a panel with his father nearly 15 years ago and this will be the second time. He views this panel as an opportunity to discuss a complex problem.

“Some of the challenges include increasing production through improved agricultural practices, increasing access to food, addressing changing environmental and water resource conditions, increasing the effectiveness of food transfers and aid, and raising people’s levels of education,” he said.

“These challenges require myriad efforts. We need to empower low-income individuals to find innovative ways of escaping poverty. We must address important institutional issues such as security in land rights, as well as immediate needs such as food transfers, emergency aid and medical support.”

For more details on the panel and the conference, visit the conference website.