What are typical questions that people ask?
More than 40 percent of the contact we receive concerns the reduction of agricultural chemicals used on field, fruit, and vegetable crops. Twenty-five percent are questions about raising animals, including animal health and feeds, and pasture management. We are receiving an increasing number of questions about energy conservation and farm-based renewable energy. Sustainable production techniques, crop diversification, and marketing are other major areas of interest, along with soil conservation, water quality, and the availability of equipment designed for sustainable agricultural practices.
Does ATTRA have a newsletter?
Yes. We publish a free weekly sustainable agriculture e-newsletter called the Weekly Harvest. To subscribe, please fill out our e-news subscription form. Additionally, the archives for our newsletters are available here.
What is sustainable agriculture?
Sustainable agriculture is a system that produces abundant food without depleting the earth’s resources or polluting its environment. It is agriculture that follows the principles of nature to develop systems for raising crops and livestock that are, like nature, self-sustaining. Sustainable agriculture is also the agriculture of social values, one whose success is indistinguishable from vibrant rural communities, rich lives for families on the farms, and wholesome food for everyone.
Who are your sustainable agriculture specialists?
NCAT’s agriculture specialists are dedicated to the sustainability of American agriculture. Most of them hold advanced degrees in the agricultural sciences. Many were raised on farms, some have been farm managers, and several continue to maintain farms and ranches. They have worked on both foreign and domestic agriculture projects. Some came to NCAT from other nonprofit organizations; others have worked for Cooperative Extension or been university faculty. ATTRA specialists often draw on the expertise of NCAT’s energy engineers, who have extensive experience with energy conservation and with the full range of renewable energy technologies. All of our specialists are involved in research and writing about sustainable agriculture, and they are frequently invited to make presentations at conferences and workshops.
What’s ahead for sustainable agriculture?
The future of sustainable agriculture has never looked more promising or more challenging. On the one hand, the number of acres in organic production continues to rise, and sales of organic foods are growing at a double-digit rate. The USDA has enlarged its commitment to sustainability, the 2008 Farm Bill contains provisions that clearly benefit and encourage sustainable practices, the National Organic Standards now provide a common benchmark for certifying organic production and USDA programs encourage and support renewable energy more strongly than ever. On the other hand, crop subsidies to factory farms continue to grow. Large seed and chemical companies are lobbying hard for genetically modified plants and other organisms that are resistant to (and, therefore, require) agricultural chemicals. Water-quality issues still dog many of America’s most productive agricultural regions