By John E. Ikerd

With the decline of family members farms and rural groups and the increase of company farming and the ensuing environmental degradation, American agriculture is in difficulty. yet this hindrance bargains the chance to reconsider agriculture in sustainable phrases. right here essentially the most eloquent and influential proponents of sustainable agriculture explains what this implies. those attractive essays describe what sustainable agriculture is, why it all started, and the way it could actually be successful. jointly they represent a transparent and compelling imaginative and prescient for rebalancing the ecological, fiscal, and social dimensions of agriculture to fulfill the desires of the current with out compromising the future. In predicament and chance, John E. Ikerd outlines the implications of agricultural industrialization, then information the equipment which could repair monetary viability, ecological soundness, and social accountability to our agricultural approach and hence be certain sustainable agriculture because the starting place of a sustainable nutrients process and a sustainable society. (20081101)

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Additional info for Crisis & opportunity: sustainability in American agriculture

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When we do exert our independence, we tend to be dominating and exploitative. We compete; we feel we must win. We must beat someone else or profit from someone else; we must use someone else for our own benefit. Without someone else to beat, we have no way to win, no way to succeed, and others have no way to win or succeed except by beating us. In reality, we are hopelessly dependent on a system that demands that we act as either victor or victim, thus encouraging us to exploit each other. Through our lives of dependence, we have become only parts of whole people.

5 Historically, industrial systems have degraded the environment and depleted not only the natural resource base but also the human resource base. Henry Ford is quoted as once saying the biggest problem in running a factory is that you have to hire whole people when all you need is two hands. Large factory farms transform independent decision makers into farm workers, into people who only know how to follow instructions but not how to make decisions. The industrialization of agriculture may have made sense as long as the farmers who were displaced could find more productive employment elsewhere in the larger economy.

The industrial era is of the past, the future belongs to postindustrial knowledge-based systems. The future belongs to systems capable of empowering people to be creative, innovative, productive individuals — not just cogs in some big industrial machine. Sustainable agriculture empowers people to be productive. Whether Americans will have the wisdom to develop a sustainable system of farming is a question that only time can answer. However, sustainable agriculture represents the best hope for the future of family farming, or even true farming, in America.

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