Sustainable practices protect farming and the environment

The article, “Transforming U.S. Agriculture” (Science, May 2011) points out, “Concerns about long-term sustainability have promoted interest in new forms of agriculture that (i) enhance the natural-resource base and environment, (ii) make farming financially viable, and (iii) contribute to the well-being of farmers, farm workers, and rural communities, while still (iv) providing abundant, affordable food, feed, fiber, and fuel.” And the 2010 U.S. National Resources Council, “Toward Sustainable Agriculture Systems in the 21st Century,” identified numerous examples of innovative farming systems that contribute to multiple sustainability goals but noted they are not widespread — and was critical of aspects of mainstream, conventional farming systems. When even the American Public Health Association seeks a moratorium on large CAFOs, being critical of a mega-dairy does not mean being critical of agriculture or the farmers of our community. Nor does it mean we want to go back in time. No! We want to move with all haste to the agriculture of the future.

“Why are we supporting big, mainstream agriculture that’s not necessarily protecting or benefitting the environment?” (Reganold, a Washington State University soil scientist, Science Daily, May 5, 2011).

These new sustainable practices — that protect farming and farmer, the environment, and our communities — these should be the focus of our state and country. These should be the focus of our policies.

Ken Turner
Warren, Ill.

From the Aug. 3-9, 2011, issue

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