Sustainable. Regenerative. Conservation. Climate-smart. Carbon-neutral. ESG.
The buzzwords seem endless sometimes. There's no denying that agriculture is central in so many of those discussions. Today especially (since it's Earth Day), my newsfeeds are riddled with these terms and posts proclaiming that a new way of farming can save the Earth.
Most of these posts aren't coming from farmers, though. It seems like farmers are eerily absent from the conversations about farming. Intentional or not - I don't know.
Without farmers in the conversation, the ag related climate solutions can be unrealistic, at best - and harmful for our food systems and the communities that depend on agriculture, at worst. There aren't one-size-fits-all solutions, and farmers are going to ignore you if you try to sell us one. In fact, adoption rates of a lot of these programs have been extremely low among farmers as a result.
I encourage ESG experts, corporations, NGOs, and governments to invite farmers to lead the conversation. Because "sustainable" isn't a buzzword or a fad on the farm. The truth is, farmers have been focused on sustainability and conservation for decades. And we've been successful.
American farmers have made incredible strides in efficiency, using innovation, technology, and data to improve how we grow and raise food. These tools have been instrumental, as farmers manage the complexities of an always-changing natural system. As a result, we're growing more with less - while reducing our GHG emissions, reducing soil erosion, and conserving water. Even in the face of droughts, extreme weather, and climate change.
This work begins and ends with our land. Farmers are experts on their soil, their weather patterns, the availability of water, and the realities of their local ecosystems.
Most farmers, even today, are multi-generational family farmers. We recognize that our land is our livelihood, our future legacy, and our history, all wrapped into one. We have little future farmers watching everything we do and dreaming of their turn behind the steering wheel of the tractor. We have retired farmers, who have managed through a changing technological and economic landscape over decades and still provide perspective to the current generation as we attempt to transition once again to tackle new challenges.
There are definitely a lot of new challenges and more to come. Farmers have made incredible progress, but there is certainly still work to be done. And, we will do it - because we care about our land and seeing it thrive for that next generation.
That's why farmers #InvestInOurPlanet.