Are all types of farming and ranching sustainable?

A. Do all types of farmers and ranchers care about sustainability?

The vast majority of farmers and ranchers operating all types and sizes believe sustainability is their business. If they don’t take care of the land or their animals, their business will not flourish. A report released by Field to Market and the Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture demonstrates how six commodity crops (corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, rice and potatoes) are being produced more efficiently in the U.S. than they were 30 years ago, accompanied by important improvements in farm safety and economic sustainability for producers.

B. How do today’s farms measure up to yesterday’s farms in terms of sustainability?

According to the Field to Market Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, many commodity crops are being grown much more sustainably than 30 years ago. Some examples for corn, wheat, soybeans, cotton, rice and potatoes from the study include:

  • Soil erosion per unit of production has improved by between 47 and 67 percent (over 30 years)
  • Energy use and greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production have decreased between 15 and more than 42 percent for all crops (over 30 years)
  • Improvements in efficiency were driven, at least in part, by improvements in yield for all crops, ranging from 25 percent to 64 percent (over 30 years)

C. Examples of producing more while using less

Each pound of beef raised in 2007, compared to 1977, used 19 percent less feed, 33 percent less land, 12 percent less water and nine percent less fossil fuel energy.

Each pound of pork raised in 2009, compared to 1959, used 41 percent less water, 78 percent less land and had a carbon footprint that was 35 percent lower.

How To Care for 7,000 Pigs:

Modern dairy practices require considerably fewer resources than dairying in 1944. Today farmers are using just 21 percent of the animals, 23 percent of feedstuffs, 35 percent of water and 10 percent of the land required to produce the same amount of milk.

How To Milk 1,200 Cows:

In the past 30 years, total soil erosion for corn production decreased 31 percent. For soybeans, the decrease has been 28 percent.

How To Use Trash to Help Crops Grow:

How To Collect Eggs:

USFRA Point of View

In order for agriculture to provide healthy choices for all Americans, as well as people around the world, we need all types of farms and ranches – big and small, organic and conventional, rural and urban. Only when farmers and ranchers collectively respond to the marketplace, sharing best... Read more