“A sustainable agriculture does not deplete soils or people.” –Wendell Berry, author and poet
“The three corner stones of sustainable agriculture– ecological soundness, economic viability, and social responsibility– rest upon a foundation of intergenerational equity. Intergenerational equity, in turn, has its foundation in human spirituality. Sustainability applies the Golden Rule across generations.”
–Dr. John Ikerd, economist
Our society is based on agriculture: farmers provide most of the raw materials that feed and clothe us all. Sustaining that foundation is essential to sustaining our society. So sustainable agriculture is about more than specific farming practices or the number of miles between the farmer’s field and your plate.
To be environmentally sound, an agriculture system should enhance and not degrade the natural resource base for future generations: They should have at least as much as the current inhabitants of the planet and hopefully more.
To be economically viable, an agriculture system should ensure farmers receive a fair wage for their efforts/products, should ensure that healthy food is available to all consumers at a reasonable cost, and should ensure our rural agrarian communities remain viable.
To be socially just, an agriculture system must factor in the social impacts of fair wages, migrant labor, and rural community health. In addition, the system must provide the most nutritious products, thus establishing a foundation for good health in our society and for future generations.
Currently, our food system in the U.S. is defined by industrial values, not the values of sustainability. This industrial farming system provides a bounty of products for relatively low prices but the socioeconomic costs of environmental and human health degradation, government subsidies, migrant labor, loss of family farms, and declining rural communities are not reflected in the price at the store. CFSA and hundreds of other organizations, and millions of people, across the country and the world are working to restore a food system that enhances the health and well-being of our soils and our people.