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To move the planet forward we must think differently about sustainability, one piece on work happening in America

23rd Apr 2018

Source: AgriPulse, 4th April 2018 Opinion: To move our planet forward, food and agriculture must think about sustainability differently, by Chris Policinski.

This article appeared in an American journal, but some of the messages ring true for the UK as well!

In many ways, the sustainability story of the American farmer mirrors that of every other American. Farmers genuinely care about doing their part to protect our planet, for all the same reasons as anyone else.

They want to leave behind a world that’s just a little bit better than how they found it.

This is the refrain we hear again and again from the agricultural community at every meeting, conference, hearing and media appearance. While it’s a worthy sentiment, I believe it’s time to update our message to reflect the changing reality of our industry.

My message is simple:

To move our planet forward, farmers must lead the charge. But they can’t do it alone.

Coordinated action on sustainability across the food supply chain is the only way to achieve lasting progress. The rest of the food supply chain can and should do more to support farmers. And that starts with expanding how we talk about sustainability.

Here’s why: More than any other person, organization, company or government agency, American farmers have daily and near-constant contact with the land. Every day, American farmers make conservation decisions that impact 915 million U.S. acres – nearly half of the land in the continental United States.

We’ve all heard the statistic that we’ll need to feed 9 billion people by 2050, and that harsher drought, severe weather, and more pests will make this increasingly difficult. We sometimes fall into the trap of talking about these challenges as though they’re a generation away.

But for farmers, these challenges are happening right now.

That’s why it’s time to start thinking and talking about sustainability differently. In order to achieve lasting progress, we must connect big-ticket goals – the increasingly common company commitments to slashing emissions and saving kilowatt hours of energy – to the daily reality of what farmers face, acre-by-acre and field-by-field.

 

Through our farmer-owned approach, we are unlocking the greatest potential from farm-to-fork, using our network to deliver precision conservation tools, data and services to farmers, and rooting it all in our expertise and 96-year heritage as a farmer-owned cooperative.

Bringing together big-picture, company-level sustainability commitments and the acre-by-acre conservation efforts of farmers makes both more effective. It engages farmers in advancing conservation solutions across millions of acres of farmland in a more coordinated way. It allows us to collect and then translate data that not only helps farmers continuously improve their stewardship, but also helps consumers access clear information about how their food was produced.

Coordinated action on sustainability across the food supply chain that puts farmers in the drivers’ seat is the only way to achieve lasting progress on the sustainability challenges we face as an industry and as a country. It is the best way to move our planet forward, together.