Here today, gone tomorrow.  It´s a common sentiment in a fast-changing world.  But while most of us won´t be around a century from now, hundreds of millions of people will live in the United States and will need to be fed.  If growth trends continue, it´ll be many more millions than the 310 million who live here now.  And there will be less farmland and ranchland available to do it with.  That´s why sustainability is so crucial to America´s food industry – and America´s future.

Farmers were practicing “sustainability” long before anyone else had heard of the word -- ever since ancient agrarians discovered the basic principles of crop rotation.  Today, sustainability have become a science, one that America´s farmers and ranchers are constantly working to improve. 

One good measure of sustainability is that the productivity of American agriculture has been steadily increasing.  But keeping farmland fertile and productive is just one aspect of our current understanding of “sustainability.” Equally important is the more recent concept of environmental stewardship, especially as it relates to environmental impact that farming and ranching has on the planet.

Farmers and ranchers are reducing their impact on the environment by minimizing when possible the use of inputs and resources from water to fertilizer to pesticides, employing cutting-edge solutions for clean water, air and soil. For example, ranchers are incorporating waste management techniques that minimize runoff and groundwater pollution.  Farmers are using a variety of innovative techniques that have significantly reduced reliance on pesticides and herbicides, including targeted spraying and the development of pest- and disease-resistant seeds, and seeds that require less watering (and consequently produce less runoff).  Farmers and ranchers are taking a triple-bottom line approach, focusing equally on people, planet and business in their daily operations.

Considerable progress has been made, but much remains to be done.  In the coming year, America´s farmers and ranchers will be opening a dialogue with America´s consumers, to hear your concerns and to tell you more about our efforts.  We invite you to take a seat at the table and participate in this conversation.  Tell us what questions you have about the sustainability practices that farmers and ranchers are employing to improve the health of the planet. Click here, or visit our Twitter and Facebook pages, to learn more.