ADVANCING SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE: A VIEW FROM THE FARM

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discussions to help the White House learn more about U.S. agriculture’s efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the National Corn Growers Association took part in Thursday’s General Session program. …">

(Posted Mon. Jun 15th, 2015)

The sustainability organization Field to Market experienced record-breaking attendance for its spring meeting last week. In addition to participating in discussions to help the White House learn more about U.S. agriculture’s efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the National Corn Growers Association took part in Thursday’s General Session program.

 

Jim Burg, a fifth-generation corn farmer from Wessington Springs, S.D., joined a panel of farmers to talk about sustainable practices in production agriculture.

 

“Farmers have been investing in conservation for years,” said Burg. “We have fenced creeks, maintained wildlife habitat, utilized biotechnology to help us reduce herbicides and insecticides, employed precision tools to optimize production, and worked with crop consultants to utilize our farm’s data. As a result, we have a cleaner environment, faster and more efficient ways to farm and more profitable operations. What is different today than in the past is that our customers and our customers’ customers want to know through documentation how innovations in technology and conservation practices are advancing the sustainability of crop production.” 

 

The panel acknowledged that there is a need to demonstrate how U.S. growers contribute to sustainability within the supply chain. However, the process for doing this is not without challenges.

 

“Farmers need help in documenting their contributions,” said Burg. “There needs to be enough flexibility within assessments to address constraints due to extreme weather, variable field conditions and a variety of unpredictable events that could occur within a given growing season. Farmers are industry’s best bet for advancing sustainable agriculture. Practical and realistic goals will be what will drive practice adoption.”

 

Field to Market brings together a diverse group of grower organizations; agribusinesses; food, beverage, restaurant and retail companies; conservation groups; universities and public sector partners to focus on defining, measuring and advancing the sustainability of food, fiber and fuel production. It is composed of 75 members representing all facets of the U.S. agricultural supply chain, with member companies employing more than 3.9 million people and representing combined revenues totaling more than $1.3 trillion.