What is sustainable agriculture?
There are various definitions of sustainable agriculture. The Alliance for Sustainability offers four goals based on the following values:
- Ecological soundness
- Economic viability
- Social justice
Part of the definition offered by ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agricultural INformation Service, includes:
"Sustainable agriculture is one 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. But in the ﬁrst decade of the 21st Century, sustainable agriculture, as a set of commonly accepted practices or a model farm economy, is still in its infancy—more than an idea, but only just."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a legal definition that says it is an "an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long-term
- Satisfy human food and fiber needs.
- Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends.
- Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls.
- Sustain the economic viability of farm operations.
- Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole."
Bottom line for Sustainable Farmer is that sustainable agriculture provides an opportunity for small farmers to make a living for themselves and their families by embracing farming practices we can all be proud of, by acting as stewards of the earth and the animals who share the planet with us.
What is the mission of Sustainable Farmer?
Sustainable Farmer is dedicated to providing information about how to raise food and fiber mindfully, paying attention to the needs of the environment, especially the plants and the animals that sustain us.
Our goal is to harness the power of the Internet to build a community online, where people can exchange ideas and innovations. We also promise cutting-edge multimedia packages on the latest research, and tips and techniques, as well as profiles of people involved in the sustainable agriculture movement.
This site is the brainchild of Bonnie Bucqueroux, a Web pioneer and an award-winning ag journalist. A National Magazine Award winner, Bucqueroux currently teaches digital journalism at Michigan State University's School of Journalism. She also earned an Oscar in Agriculture and was named Writer of the Year by the American Agricultural Editors Association (under her previous name Bonnie Pollard).
Please e-mail us at
info AT sustainablefarmer.com