Farmers and ranchers across the U.S. recognize that healthy soils and watersheds are critical to the productivity and profitability of agricultural systems, as well as to rural communities and wildlife. Innovative producers are demonstrating the potential of a diversity of high-performance agricultural ecosystems to produce food, return profits, and conserve and enhance natural resources. Working with partners, they also are pioneering and refining solutions that cut across farm boundaries to address environmental challenges across the landscape. Yet, in too many areas, despite these efforts, loss of nutrients to air and water, depletion of organic matter, mining of groundwater, and production on sensitive lands threaten to undermine the natural systems on which agricultural productivity, communities, and wildlife all depend over the long term.1
A growing population, increased demand for agriculturally-based fuel and other products, changing climate, increasing water scarcity in many areas, and loss of agriculturally productive lands to development will only increase pressure on natural resources in coming decades.2 In order to secure future agricultural productivity, the nation needs both to conserve and enhance soil, water supplies, and other natural resources and to adapt to changing conditions. Addressing these challenges at home also will contribute to agricultural development and resource conservation abroad through knowledge and technology transfer.
AGree is developing a framework and specific recommendations to achieve these results through actions, policies, programs, and investments by government, the food and agriculture supply chain, and civil society. These recommendations will take an integrated approach to production, risk management, conservation, and environmental outcomes. Key components include:
AGree opposes action by Congress that would undermine progress achieved. At the same time, AGree recognizes that moving forward, programs and requirements need to be streamlined, integrated, and implemented in a manner that minimizes bureaucratic processes, incentivizes innovation, and is adaptable to localized conditions and management systems. AGree calls on colleagues across the agriculture and food production value chain, policymakers, and scientists and innovators to work together to identify and implement the policies, programs, and actions necessary to meet the challenges and secure the future of agriculture and the American landscape.
*Specialty crop producers who have not participated in USDA conservation, loan, or disaster programs may be subject to federal conservation standards for the first time. As federal soil conservation standards apply only to annual crops planted on highly erodible lands, few specialty crop producers will likely be affected. Care should be taken to credit existing and equivalent soil conservation practices undertaken to meet state standards where they exist. Producers subject to wetland conservation standards for the first time should not be penalized for activities previously undertaken.
Although all the individuals formally affiliated with AGree may not agree completely with every statement noted, they are committed to working together to find solutions to the challenges facing food and agriculture. For citations, please visit http://foodandagpolicy.org/sites/default/files/AGree_position_citations.pdf
View or download a PDF version of the Increase Agricultural Productivity by Conserving and Enhancing Soil, Water, and Habitat position paper.