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A newly formed alliance dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture has appeared on the horizon of U.S. farmers and cattle ranchers. The U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) consists of high-level, important farm and ranch-led organizations, and has under its umbrella a number of significant partners as well. What is all this effort in aid of, you may be asking?
Nothing short of a miracle, really, when you think about it. Why? Because from as low as regional-level organizations, to as high as national-level organizations, and everything in between (including those partners functioning at the state level), have all joined forces in order to create a dialog about American sustainable farming and ranching practices. And all this is really in order to be more open to the American consumer, and to listen to what the American consumer is asking for when it comes to food.
The USFRA wants to fill in the gap between agricultural companies and organizations, and the people to whom their food is going. Americans have more and more questions, every day, especially with an unprecedented amount of access to information, via the Internet. And the questions are about the practices governing how farmers and ranchers raise the food that ends up in the market and the butcher. With the shift toward local and seasonal eating ever on the rise, this marks an important shift, whereby national organizations in control over much of the nation’s food supply, finally appear to be entering the conversation about sustainable agriculture. Continue reading
Sustainable Agriculture: Meeting Current Needs Without Sacrificing Future Needs
Agriculture requires the dedication of many of our natural resources, including land, water, and energy. When the quality and quantity of our natural resources degrades as a result of unsustainable practices, it’s not only the environment that suffers–the viability of future agricultural operations is also put at risk. Sustainable agriculture is founded on the premise that our resources can be carefully managed and cultivated to make them last indefinitely.
And it’s not just natural resources that proponents of sustainable agriculture are focused on; it’s also human resources. Treating workers equitably helps cultivate our social and economic vitality, which can be eroded as easily as environmental health by unfair labor practices–and at enormous cost to our society.
Of course, profitability is also essential to sustainability. Every industry has to make money to subsist. So how do we reconcile the bottom line with the need for ecologically and socially responsible practices? The following are the 5 most important elements of sustainable agriculture. Continue reading