Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sustainable Farms = Sustainable Food Supply

The term sustainable agriculture is used plenty these days. This is what sustainable means to me.

As a dairy producer, my vision of sustainability encompasses;
1) Sustaining the economic viability of our farm. This business must be profitable or it can’t exist. If our farm isn’t financially stable, then we can’t produce milk, employ people, buy products and services and support our community.

2) Sustaining a rural agriculture economy so my children will have the opportunity to operate our family farm in the future.

3) Sustaining our cattle by providing nutritious feed, fresh water, comfortable housing, medical treatment when necessary and handling manure properly.

4) Sustaining productive farm land. High yielding crops are grown in nutrient rich, fertile soil. Our farm plan must insure environmentally sound practices that produce quality crops, replenish the soil and protect waterways.

Lad spreads manure, a valuable nutrient, on a field of recently harvested corn
5) Sustaining a safe, affordable food supply by producing a quality product.

Sustainable agriculture is practiced on all types and all sizes of farms across this nation every day. It exists on small farms and large farms, organic farms and traditional farms. It’s not rigidly defined as using only certain management practices perceived to be environmentally friendly. Sustainability is achieved from innovation, creativity and diversity on a variety of farms.

Sustainable farms must be profitable farms. Sustainability may include practices such as using GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds, incorporating technology that enables cows to produce more milk, feeding beef cattle so they’ll reach the market quicker, practicing no-till, or expanding your operation so future generations can come back to the farm.

Our son, Jack, with a calf - both the future of our farm
Today’s farmer is faced with the daunting challenge of feeding a growing population. Agriculturalists utilize less land and less resources while following an increasing number of rules and regulations while consumers question which management practices are best. This is not easy work and the number of people who choose to be agriculturalists declines each year.

We farmers know good management practices lead to healthy, productive land and animals. This enables our farms to be viable, sustainable operations which benefit farmers, consumers and communities.

Jack, Lad and Garrett walk the field of newly planted rye

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