Sustainablilty? What does it really mean?

Everyday our world is changing around us and we, as agriculturalists must cope with these changes in order to hold our place in society.  More and more we are hearing words like sustainability throughout the industry.  Sustainable agriculture.  What does that really mean? Better yet, are farmer’s and rancher’s perceptions on sustainability in harmony with that of the consumer?  Webster defines the word sustainable as  a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.  I wondered how your everyday farmer viewed the phrase “sustainable agriculture”, so of course, I picked up the phone and made some calls to local farmers in my area and asked.  Here are a few responses. 

– Farming and using the land so that it will still be here 100 years from now.  Hopefully in better shape than before.

– Agriculture that we can maintain to ensure an industry for generations to come.  This done by developing new techniques, and technologies to improve genetics and implementing modern biotechnologies.

– To build an industry that will thrive on its own.  An industry that can build upon itself to insure the integrity of the food supply for future generations. 

 These are just a few farmer responses.  More importantly how do our consumers perceive sustainable agriculture? This is what we as producers, and industry leaders need to understand in order to build and shape the future of the agriculture industry.  I personally think that as an industry we have taken great strides to becoming sustainable.  We have built an industry with a good foundation and for the most part have changed according to the needs of our consumers, but are we sustainable enough?  Are we currently meeting the needs of our consumers when it comes to sustainability? 

 So I ask, what are your views on sustainable agriculture and are we heading in the right directions?  How can we shape consumers views about sustainable agriculture?  We as an industry must to come together to ensure the future  sustainability of agriculture.

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