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NEARLY 25 YEARS AGO, the word “sustainable” started coming up in farming conversations. Even then, some folks felt you had to be an organic farmer involved in low input farming to be sustainable.
Yet in the 1970s, a number of no-tillers felt they fit the definition of sustainability. They thought they were not being credited enough for their accomplishments in meeting the word’s definition.
While it has been around for a long time, sustainability seems to be among agriculture’s latest buzz words, especially in government circles. Even though the environmentalists years ago branded sustainable as being only low input agriculture, that definition is not only outdated, but also unrealistic.
As Sarah Vacek of the Agricultural Retailers Association points out, today’s concept of sustainability requires agriculture to be restorative rather than degrading when it comes to managing farmland. Today’s agriculture community must be prepared to feed an ever-growing population from a decreasing amount of land.
She maintains sustainability will improve agriculture and its economic viability through new technologies which can increase yields, reduce costs and help save the environment. These are benefits you can readily explain to consumers when they ask if you’re involved in sustainable agriculture.
Unfortunately, many people still confuse organic farming with sustainable agriculture. While organic food production may be chemical-free, it is not sustainable because a large and growing population can’t be fed with this farming method.
While much of traditional American agriculture is not considered fully sustainable, we’re definitely moving in the right direction…