One of the biggest buzz words in the media right now is “sustainability.” I often read articles or hear talk show hosts talk about “sustainable” or “responsible” food production. It implies that today’s modern farmer is not using sustainable or responsible practices.
I, for one, am 100% behind sustainable farming. Farmers are the originators of sustainability. It’s very simple; the land is our livelihood. Most farmers’ lifetime goal is to pass the family farm down to the next generation. Farmers have been carrying on for centuries through droughts, floods, devastating disease and all the while learning from the previous generation and making improvements to leave the land better than they found it.
My husband and I are lucky enough to be a part of a farm that’s been in our family since 1935. What I want people to understand is that we see our family’s farm as a true gift; a gift that comes with a lot of responsibility. Of course we want to be profitable because that’s how we survive. But more than anything, we want to take care of our land and livestock so our children can continue the legacy if they so choose.
Today’s farmers are taking better care of the land than ever before. They’re using less chemicals and fertilizers and more conservation practices while getting greater production out of less land. This is because we have access to information that helps us make “sustainable” decisions. It’s not possible to raise crops profitably if we don’t take proper care of the land.
On our farm for example, we currently use conservation practices such as grass seeded waterways, filter strips, tile, buffer strips, terraces, crop rotation, cover crops and no-till practices all for the purpose of minimizing erosion and run-off. All of these things require great effort and money. But it’s important that we implement them in order to preserve the land.
There is a whole business sector, particularly in urban areas, whose marketing strategies are focused on “responsibly raised products,” and “sustainable products.” I have to wonder, when was the last time that consumers at these stores actually visited a farm and saw for their own eyes how food is raised instead of just believing everything the media tells them? The practices we use in our fields are far more sustainable than the fertilizer that gets dumped on lawns and golf courses all across America, I assure you.
Farmers are the leaders of sustainable food production. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing – safe, healthy food.