Wenger noted that several years ago, one of his biggest concerns was whether the economics of agriculture would allow the next generation of farmers to continue.
"I don't worry about that as much anymore. The world wants what we have. When you talk about locally grown, we have a very unique situation here in California. The rest of the world wants what we grow. Even though they can grow the same crops, they can't grow it with the reliable quality that we have," he said.
In concluding, Wenger said that while it is important to conserve farmland, some of the efforts to accomplish this task focus on pristine viewsheds rather than on food production.
"At the end of the day, when we have limited resources to protect, are we going to protect the ag lands that are the most productive, or are we going to protect that land that maybe looks the best? As we talk about efficiency of production and feeding the most people with the least impact, those are discussions that we need to have," he said.
In her presentation, Kimball emphasized the need to educate more people in agricultural pursuits, not only as farmers but in supporting industries.
"We have to figure out how we are going to train these folks. It doesn't always mean college," she said. "I have so many employers who call me and say they just need a farm manager or someone who is ready to go and knows how things work. We don't have a repository right now of those kinds of people, and we have to start thinking about where we can find people who are interested in those kinds of careers and then help them get there."
Dimock said it is important for everyone to realize that the food system is the base of civilization.
"The way that we interact with the planet to feed ourselves, which is the thing that we all depend on every day in order to survive, is incredibly impactful. To be sustainable, we can't think about three, five or 10 generations, we have to think about 1,000 generations. We have to think beyond what humans everywhere think about if we are going to survive sustainably," he said.
Ross said there is a strong yearning on the part of Americans to reconnect with their food.
"Our quality of life generally comes from the fact that we don't have to worry about where our food comes from. We will not have sound public policy if we don't have consumers who understand where their food comes from, how it is produced and who is producing it," she said.