The farmers of the future - still a dream job
As the Salon International de l’Agriculture – the biggest French agricultural fair – takes place in Paris, market access manager Marc Henninger reflects on the sustainability of food production, and how farmers can build on their great work in facing this challenge.

When you ask young children what they want to be when they grow up, many will probably tell you they want to be an airline pilot, fireman, football player, performer, nurse or veterinarian.

When I was a boy, I wanted to be a farmer as I was fascinated by cows. Both of my parents were physicians, but it was my grandmother who suggested I become a vet instead, and this was the path my career took.

Right from the start, I was incredibly passionate about being a veterinary practitioner, helping cow and pig farmers improve the health and wellbeing of their animals. I’m very grateful for the strong relationships I formed with farmers, which helped me improve my work.

Farmers do a wonderful job every day to ensure animals get the right diet, live in a comfortable environment and feel healthy and happy.
As I developed as a veterinarian and gained more knowledge about the profession, I realised that farmers, technicians and vets were also part of a much bigger story. These are the people who provide consumers with safe and nutritious food, three times a day, all year round.
I also understood that the farming community is continuously looking for ways to improve. Farmers have made great progress in the methods they use to raise animals and cultivate crops. Did you know, for instance, that we use three times less feed for chickens today than in the 1950s?

That’s the result of more than 60 years of continuous effort to better understand the needs of animals and adapt to new challenges. But there is still more we need to do to improve the way we take care of animals and produce more food with less resources. This is an ambitious goal, but it is achievable.

The world is changing: in the 1950s, there were 2.5 billion people on earth – today there are roughly 7.5 billion. It’s estimated that by 2050 there will be 10 billion people living on our planet, and we’re already using the equivalent of 1.6 earths to support ourselves. Put plainly, our planet is in peril.

Every farmer should be proud of what they have accomplished so far and have the ambition and drive to move forward more sustainably in the future. I am fully committed to helping them explain to consumers why they do what they do, how they do it, and why we should all be proud of their progress towards a sustainable planet for future generations of animals, farmers and consumers.

What motivates me every day, as a father and a vet, is to play my part in facing the challenges ahead of us. I have two dreams. One: that in the future we can provide everyone with safe, affordable, nutritious food, produced sustainably. And two: that other youngsters will dream of becoming the farmers of the future, just like I did.

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