James McCarty from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability, University of Arkansas will be one of the featured speakers at the upcoming Michigan Ag Commodities Educational Expo. Dr. McCarty will be giving a presentation titled “Measuring what matters in sustainable agriculture”.
The term sustainable agriculture may have been co-opted and thought to infer only certain production and cultural practices. In an online PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Marty Matlock, also from the Center for Agriculture and Rural Sustainability, provides five points he feels define what should be considered as sustainable agriculture:
- Meeting the needs of the present while enhancing the ability of future generations to meet their needs
- Increasing productivity to meet future food demands
- Decreasing impacts on the environment
- Improving human health
- Improving social and economic health of agriculture communities
Current world population growth projections estimate a world population of 9.25 billion people by 2050. If increasing financial resources in developing nations are combined with the increased world population, some estimates point to doubling the world food needs also by 2050 (Keystone, 2009). Dr. Matlock establishes the goal for sustainable agriculture as “feeding 9.25 billion people without one more hectare of land and not one more drop of water”.
The Keystone Center for Public Policy brings together leaders in public, private and civic sectors to solve problems and promote good public policy. The Center’s Field to Market Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture is a diverse group representing producers, agribusiness, food companies and conservation organizations. The Alliance partners include Monsanto, Bayer Crop Science, John Deere, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) and World Resources Institute as an indication of the diversity of opinion represented by the alliance’s membership. Field to Market defines sustainable agriculture as “meeting the needs of the present while improving the ability to feed future generations focusing on increasing agriculture productivity while decreasing environmental impact, improving human health through access to safe, nutritious food and improving social and economic well-being of rural communities,” a very similar definition to Dr. Matlock’s five points. An important component of the Alliance’s mission is to be “grounded in science, focused on outcomes and open to the full range of technology choices”.