(Bloomberg) -- Farmers are taking the spotlight at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 

That’s how Cargill Inc. Chief Executive Officer David MacLennan sees it. 

“I’ve been attending Davos for many years and I think never before has there been as great an appreciation of the importance of the farmer in the food supply chain,” he said during a panel at the forum. 

An “imperfect storm” of inflation, sustainability issues and war in Ukraine has led to a growing awareness of the value of agricultural commodity supplies and the growers who provide them, he said.

The push for more climate-friendly farming, or “regenerative agriculture,” is a big part of the discussion, raising questions about how to overcome the financial and cultural challenges and ensure soil health, according to the CEO and other panelists.

“Your soil is an asset,” like money or farm equipment, MacLennan said, noting its ability to trap carbon in addition to producing food. “We have to be more conscious about how do we protect it? How do we use it as an asset and think of it just like we think of a financial asset?”

Farmers, who may be reluctant to disrupt decades of planting traditions, need “some kind of safety net” to shift to different crops, said MacLennan, the head of one of the world’s biggest traders of agriculture commodities. 

The Cargill CEO also said he believes younger consumers will pay for food that is traceable and transparent on its origins.


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