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Why emphasize “Sustainable Agriculture”?

July 21, 2010

Sustainable Agriculture

is defined as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:

  • Satisfy human food and fiber needs
  • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
  • Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls
  • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

(according to

What is in it for me?

Well, it kind of depends upon who you are.  Are your food and fiber needs currently being met? Are the products you ingest making you healthy, or making you ill?  Will they continue to be available, and affordable?  Something many consumers never consider is what the price of fuel really means in relationship to the price of groceries.  Fuel is required for a tractor to plow, disk, cultivate, plant and spray a crop field. Fuel is required to harvest, transfer, transport, process, and ship to market.  Every step of this process adds cost to the final consumer.  Is $4 a good price for cheerios? What about $8?

What is a sustainable product really worth?

What is the environment you inhabit really like?  Does it make you healthy, or ill?  Will the same natural resources be available to you in 20, 40 and 60 years?  Things like air and water quality and flora and fauna that surrounds you all affect your mental and physical self.

Are there hidden dangers here?

What non-renewable resources are required to feed you? Since they are non-renewable, will there be a sufficient quantity available to keep those Cheerios coming, at an affordable price?  Are those non-renewable resources being used efficiently?

Did this guy planting rice wash his hands today?

And just who cares about economic viability, anyways?  Well with unemployment rates soaring in recent months, how will the unemployed people feed themselves? If producers of food cannot stay in business, what will that do for the price of Cheerios?

Is viability important?

Is viability important?

Enhancing Quality of Life

Sustainable agriculture enhances the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.  By wisely utilizing all natural resources, effectively producing the foods required for life, providing gainful employment opportunities, and improving the health benefits of the products produced, one can see why the interest in sustainable agriculture is growing.

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