Earth Day a reminder of agriculture’s role in conservation

Posted by on April 21st, 2010 | 0 Comments »

Today is Earth Day. The Global Harvest Initiative and its partner companies and organizations are proud to celebrate and commemorate the significance of this day to millions of people around the world.

While it may be cliché – “every day is Earth Day for farmers” – and those of us engaged in agriculture. We love the land. We dedicate ourselves daily to conserving as much of it as possible, understanding that global agriculture – farmers – must produce more with less if are to feed the 9 billion people who are expected to inhabit the Earth in the year 2050.

I think Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson understood that 40 years ago when the first Earth Day recognition was celebrated on April 22, 1970.

 Nelson wanted to focus public attention on pollution and environmental concerns. Today, people the world over – adults and kids – recognize the day with many national and international organizations, schools and governmental entities holding programs and events to remind us that we must protect this precious resource called Earth.

Joyce Lobeck, a staff writer for the Yuma Sun in Arizona, recently wrote an excellent piece about agriculture and Earth Day with an assessment that put it all into perspective regarding why farmers and ranchers take seriously their stewardship of the land.

… farmers and ranchers not only make a living for their families, they feed and clothe the growing population of the world while protecting the ecosystem and providing wildlife habitat.

Here’s what the Global Harvest Initiative believes about conservation:

We must minimize environmental degradation while meeting the global agricultural production needs of the future. Deforestation and use of fragile lands is simply not a viable option, so more will have to be grown on the existing land base using natural resources more efficiently. Much additional emphasis should be placed on irrigation and drought management, nutrient efficiencies and management, conservation tillage, and other actions that will improve water quality, reduce water use, and reduce greenhouse gases. These programs are important both in U.S. agriculture and throughout the rest of the world.

At the GHI, we recognize the enormity of the challenge faced by global agriculture in meeting the needs of our growing and more affluent population. Land, water and habitat constraints are tightening, as recognition grows of the critical need to protect these resources for future generations. Failure to meet these expectations sustainably has implications that transcend agriculture, with enormous ramifications for political stability in many parts of the world. But we believe that the challenge can be met and that much of the solution rests with agriculture’s ability to produce more with the same or fewer resources. That will not happen without collective stakeholder engagement and widespread significant innovation that leads to accelerated agricultural productivity growth and improved supply chain efficiency. If we mobilize as a world community can feed the world, and protect it at the same time.

Happy Earth Day!

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