cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Senior Contributor

define sustainability for agriculture

What does the word "sustainable" mean?  Who should define it?  Who benefits from the creation of a meaningful definition?   Should producers be involved in the discussion and creation of that definition? 

 

Here's two links to check out regarding the debate over the definition....

 

http://www.wheatworld.org/2009/05/word-on-wheat-achieving-sustainability-in-agriculture/

 

 

http://www.wheatworld.org/wp-content/uploads/conserve-ag-resignation-letter-leonardo-academy-2010101...

 

 

0 Kudos
7 Replies
Senior Contributor

Re: define sustainability for agriculture

I've heard a little about the resignation from this academy and find it a bit divisive. How do we influence organizations if we do not put up with the *bleep* until we get some understanding of the sides? Does it hurt us to make a line in the sand with all organizations that don't stand with us? We can lob barbs each direction all we want, but in the public eye it will be considered mutual destruction.

As for sustainability definition, do you want a minimum standard from government or one freely malleable by each and every one of us selling product to the consumer? I'm afraid that we commodity farmers are not going to have as much of a say in this argument as we would like. It will be dictated by the largest retailer what they consider "sustainable."

 

0 Kudos
Senior Contributor

Re: define sustainability for agriculture

Sustainability to me means an operation that best utilizes its land, labor and capital in a fashion that best maximizes its economic, environmental, and social attributes of its operation.  I got to admit I didn't look at your links.

0 Kudos
Senior Contributor

Re: define sustainability for agriculture

Sustainability is more than what others tell you it is.  It's the product of survival, what enables you to plan for the future, to have a family and enjoy the fruits of your labor.  The academy has made a decision to define it for you, to tell you what you think it is.  Hence the decision to withdraw from the discussion in that venue.  There are other venues to successfully communicate the value of what you are.

0 Kudos
Senior Contributor

Re: define sustainability for agriculture

Academies and other people may tell you what to think, but you, yourself, are responsible for how to think. We lost a chance to change the academy from within, something that PETA and HSUS has done quite well in the past few years. Why can't we do the same? Is it so much easier to create more groups to fill up the media with opposing views that leaves the consumer confused?

0 Kudos
Veteran Advisor

Re: define sustainability for agriculture

Things really got confusing with the "egg" Debockle in Iowa----actions like this make thousands of words very meaning less--one picture -worth a thousand words----" one bad apple" can apply also---keep in mind that injecting things like steroids and the like is going to be a talking point as it is with sports and entertainment ---your customer is  the one that calls the shots in the end--ask NASCAR about all of it's empty seats ???  

0 Kudos
Advisor

Re: define sustainability for agriculture

Sustainability is a big buzzword right now, at least in certain circles.  It's blessed/cursed with a lot of moral overtones, and a discussion of it hardly ever gets past economics to the philoisophical, or past the philiosophical to economics...since most people seem to consider it from one aspect or the other, but not from both.  . 

It usually amuses me to see that the very people who discuss it most may be some of the same ones who will stand in line for the latest i-Whatever or similarly planned-obsolescent item.  So, do as I say, not as I do. 

In real-world terms, sustainability is largely an economic question. Things can be "sustained" as long as they cashflow. 

I have studied the concept from agricultural, silvicultural and other perspectives.  I'd say that in truth, actual sustainability is best reflected in the approach to living known as "permaculture."   I've read several books, but i am sure there's a goo dwWiki articel on it out there, that woud suffice to explain its major principles. 

Natural capital is exhausted in a very near radius very rapidly, at any level of endeavor above immediate subsistence provision for a nuclear household   Even those dedicated to "possum living"
are not islands. 

When our grandfathers turned under the green manure cover crop that they'd sown each fall, to provide warmth to help germinate spring seedbeds, that was sustainable.  When they spread manure from the barns onto their acres, and pulled their seed straight from the corncrib, that was sustainable. 

If you know how to calculate forage your flock consumes and save it in stockpiles, understand the biomass your woodburner converts to heat each winter v. how much your woodlot increases its standing tonnage, and engage in producing only heirloom crops with seed saved rather than bought from a hydrizer/GMO patent holder, etc., etc., you are on the way to consideration of real sustainability.  Most of what people talk about never gets anywhere near this purist approach. 

Truthfully, we all see that our modern means of living are nearly none of them sustainable.  Once you give permaculture a quick once-over, you will see what I mean. 

0 Kudos
Senior Contributor

Re: define sustainability for agriculture

Exactly, commodity agriculture definately leaves itself open for attacks from groups that want to point out that its only about the money and not about the environment, health of the consumer, health and well being of the animal, ect.   Conventional agriculture would be hard to defend by most farmers when you start talking about a million laying hens in one house in cages where they don't even have space to turn around.   I'm not bashing it cause I think people should be able to eat those flavorless eggs if they won't ante up the money to buy pasture raised eggs.  (and no, I don't sell eggs!)

0 Kudos