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National Research Council Releases Sustainable Agriculture Report

The National Research Council published a report this week entitled 'Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century'

Tractor in a field

Photo: keatssycamore (flickr)

The National Research Council paper emphasizes the importance of maintaining production of nutritious food in the face of declining resources and climate change.

The National Research Council of the National Academies recently published a report entitled ‘Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century’. They have now made it available for free online reading on the National Academies Press website.

The report reviews contemporary farming practices and discusses their various risks and benefits to the movement toward sustainable agriculture.

All practices are reviewed in reference to four goals the authors established for improving the industry’s environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Four Goals Of Sustainable Agriculture

  • Satisfy human food, feed, and fiber needs, and contribute to biofuel needs.
  • Enhance environmental quality and the resource base.
  • Sustain the economic viability of agriculture
  • Enhance the quality of life for farmers, farm workers, and society as a whole.

Julia Kornegay, chair of the committee that wrote the report, said in the press release:

Although farming productivity has increased, nowadays farmers are being asked to do more than produce more food for a growing world population.

Many modern agricultural practices have unintended negative consequences, such as decreased water and air quality, and farmers have to consider these consequences while trying to increase production. If farmers are going to meet future demands, the U.S. agriculture system has to evolve to become sustainable and think broadly — past the bottom line of producing the most possible.

Read more:

  • IOM issues report on agricultural sustainability (Food Politics)
  • Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century (Complete Report)
Megan Meyer

Megan Meyer was in the company of foodies for most of her formative years. She spent all of her teens working at her town's natural food co-op in South Dakota, and later when she moved to Minneapolis, worked as a produce maven for the nation's longest running collectively-managed food co-op. In 2006, she had the distinct pleasure (and pain) of participating the vendanges, or grape harvest, in the Beaujolais terroire of France, where she developed her compulsion to snip off grape clusters wherever they may hang. In the spring of 2008, Megan interned on NPR's Science Desk in Washington, D.C., where she aided in the coverage of science, health and food policy stories. She joined Indiana Public Media in June, 2009.

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