Sustainability in agriculture is defined as a way to raise food that’s healthy by using methods that aren’t harmful to the environment and are humane for workers, that show respect for the animals and support and enhance rural communities and offer a decent living for the farmers. That sounds like quite a mouth full but it basically boils down to three words – conservation, preservation and respect.
We must meet the requirements of the present while finding ways to replenish supplies without compromising the needs of future generations. What we take from the environment we have to put back in. Sustainable agriculture seeks to find ways to make sure that waste from farming stays within the farm’s own ecosystem so it cannot cause build up or pollution. And sustainable agriculture also looks at ways to minimize transportation cost and fuel usage by keeping processing at the local level where possible.
Every farm also raises different crops and animals that they rotate around the fields to enrich the soil and reduce the necessity for chemical fertilizers and herbicides. This also help stop disease and pest problems keeping the necessity for chemical pesticides at a minimum. In fact, many organic farms do not use any type of chemicals at all.
Natural agriculture also means treating animals and livestock with respect and permitting them to follow their natural behaviors such as grazing or pecking instead of keeping them caged up and feeding them chemical and hormone laden feed. Animals are well cared for and allowed to mature at their natural rate rather than being fed growth inducing chemicals. Not only does this provide a better life for the animals but it produces a better product for the consumer because the meats aren’t loaded with toxins.
Consumers, too, see the benefits in sustainability agriculture because it provides tastier, safer, more nutritious foods that don’t have all those toxic chemicals and they also see the effects on the environment. And because this sort of farming involves minimizing transportation costs, farmers are finding ways to market their products locally which also helps bring the community closer together. So organic agriculture has the support of the entire community.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of organic farming is how it affects the farmers and their workers. Farmers are paid a fair wage for their produce and don’t have to rely on government subsidies while their workers are treated fairly, provided with a safe work environment and also receive a fair wage and benefits.
Sustainability agriculture is more a way of life than an actual rule or regulation and there is no legal obligation for a farmer to follow any of those guidelines. But the benefits to the community and the environment, not to mention the farmer himself, are so tremendous that more and more farmers are turning their backs on the old methods and coming back to what farming is all about – the land and the environment and respect.