LINCOLN, Neb. —While American Farm Bureau Federation president Bob Stallman didn’t outright denounce sustainable agriculture in his January address, it was apparent that the 150 producers who attended the 2010 Healthy Farms Conference this month — Nebraska’s annual sustainable agriculture convention — were still feeling the sting of Stallman’s well-publicized “extremists who want to drag agriculture back to the day of 40 acres and a mule” comment.
This made Rep. Jeff Fortenberry’s keynote address at the conference all the more welcome, and his support of the local foods movement, both in Nebraska and nationwide, brought a standing ovation. “Much has changed the last few years in the local foods movement that was young exotic not too long ago,” Fortenberry said. Sustainable agriculture, the force behind the local foods movement, has captured consumer interest, both in their food and the people who produce their food. “Indeed, there is a veritable tradition and high esteem for agriculture today,” he said.
This connection between farmers and consumers, while threatening to some in conventional agriculture, provides a great opportunity for improved public policy — one where consumers show that they care about their food supply by getting involved in the lawmaking process — specifically more emphasis on the importance of the Farm Bill. While the Farm Bill isn’t perfect, sustainable agriculture made progress with this last one put in place, Fortenberry said. In fact, what began on local farms — the concept of economic, environmental and social sustainability — has now spread not only to government but to industries far removed from agriculture and to consumers’ homes in the middle of the city, said Fortenberry who himself is a gardener and a wannabe beekeeper. Sustainability — and the connection between people that it promotes — is now the hot new trend.
More and more people are also realizing that it can be more than a fad; that it’s a practical, long-term solution to the problems that plague America. [as reported in the Yankton Press & Dakotan, Saturday 20 February]
Note: It is both obvious and sad that president Bob Stallman doesn’t understand the concept, definition nor vital importance of sustainability to American farmers, our nation, and the world. Perhaps Mr. Stallman is confused with the differences between “organic farming” and “sustainable agriculture.” Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: (1) environmental stewardship, (2) farm profitability, and (3) prosperous farming communities. These goals have been defined by a variety of philosophies, policies and practices, from the vision of both farmers and consumers. In production terms, sustainable agriculture refers to the ability of a farm to continue producing indefinitely, with a minimum of outside inputs.
Without argument, our soil and irrigation water are America’s most precious and valuable natural resources. And without sustainability, agriculture has no future…period. Fertile Soil Solutions, LLC will always promote and proudly stand up for everything sustainable pertaining to global and domestic agriculture. –Brent Rouppet, Ph.D.