HTML _ 95-1062 - Sustainable Agriculture
25-Oct-1995; Jean Rawson; 6 p.

Abstract: The term ¨sustainable agriculture¨ is used to designate both a reduced-chemical approach to farming and an alternative political viewpoint on the distribution of economic and social benefits in the farm sector. In practice, sustainable agriculture is characterized by the substitution of more intensive farm resource management--generally involving more labor--for purchased inputs of fertilizers and pesticides. It comprises a range of practices that include integrated pest management (which may include pesticide applications), nonintensive livestock production, crop rotations for pest, disease, and erosion control, and alternative tillage and planting practices to reduce soil erosion. Although many conventional producers use some of the practices named above, farmers and others who label themselves sustainable agriculture adherents also assert that the Federal commodity price and income support programs have acted as barriers to more widespread adoption of these practices. They maintain that sustainable agriculture promotes the economic sustainability of small and mid-sized farms and slows the trend to large, nondiversified operations with associated environmental hazards and loss of rural economic activity. Opponents argue that widespread adoption would lead to lower farm income and decreased productivity, raise domestic food prices, force more marginal acres into production (to the detriment of wildlife and the environment), and require a return to smaller and more labor-intensive farm units. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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