The OEC: Sustainable Agriculture & Clean Water in Ohio


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This presentation on sustainable agriculture and water quality in Ohio was presented by Joe Logan at the Ohio Environmental Councl's Clean Water Conference on October 2 and 3.

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The OEC: Sustainable Agriculture & Clean Water in Ohio

  1. 1. Sustainable Agriculture & Clean Water What is sustainable ag? Does it really have a connection to water quality? Joe Logan Director of Agricultural Programs Clean Water Conference October 3, 2009
  2. 2. Lawyers Got it Right! Legal Definition of Sustainable Agriculture The term ''sustainable agriculture (U.S. Code Title 7, sustainable agriculture'' Section 3103) means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long-term: pp g • Satisfy human food and fiber needs. • Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends. • Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where on farm integrate appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls. • Sustain the economic viability of farm operations. • Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.
  3. 3. Sustainable farming in practice: This is a 'No-Dig' 35 feet x 10 feet pumpkin patch. Barely 2 months, we now have 42 g p p p y , 4 pumpkins (the red tips mark the pumpkins) with more to come judging by the flowers. Sustainable pumpkin & squash patch No mechanical tillage, no chemical fertilizer, no pesticides
  4. 4. Characteristics of “Sustainable Ag” • Bio-diversity – wide crop rotations or even crop integration. • Integration of cropping and livestock systems. • Minimize consumption of fossil-based energy and other purchased inputs / maximize local market access. • Managed according to long-term, multi- generational planning – triple bottom line. Target efficient, sustainable production levels.
  5. 5. Characteristics of Industrial Agriculture • Mono-cropping practices / shallow rotation, including only 2 or 3 different crops. • Specialization on either field crops or livestock ( (although some industrial operations also grow g p g forage). • Heavy reliance on outside inputs, including y p g petroleum fuels, pesticides, feed, and subsidies. • Focus on maximum production / profit generation. National / global marketing strategy.
  6. 6. Why Matters t th E i Wh it M tt to the Environment t • Maximum production demands maximum inputs. pu • Maximizing inputs (feed per cow, fertilizer per acre, manure per acre) increases potential for loss of those inputs to the environment. • Mitigation strategies seldom return short term profits. p
  7. 7. Short Term Short-Term Profit Motives Drive Environmental Impact • Common to all industries from oil companies to electric power generators to feedlot operators. p g a p a • Corporate “Duty of Care” prevents corporate directors / management from investing in nonnon- essential initiatives to protect the environment. • Thus: Newsweek analysis of sustainability of ‘Fortune 500’ companies: Bottom 10 – eight energy companies, two agribusiness giants. gy p , g g
  8. 8. Tale of Two Trends: Corporate Agribusiness As Industrial agriculture consolidates and integrates i i into f fewer, l larger units: i • Larger production units demand simplified (industrial type) management systems. • Requires cheap energy and stable purchased input costs and subsidies. • Trends do not favor continuation.
  9. 9. Input costs – rise subsidies find rise, resistance as 71% g to 7 go wealthiest 10% of farms
  10. 10. SITUATION ANALYSIS “The Trade Off ” Trade-Off A key dynamic that must be accounted for: IDEAL vs. REAL
  11. 11. Sustainable Ag: Time for a Resurgence? • Demand for locally‐produced, high‐quality  products is growing, outpacing supply. d t i i t i l • Consolidation trend in agriculture reaching  point of diminishing returns (anti‐trust  i f di i i hi ( i initiative by Attorney General and Ag  Secretary). Secretary) • Governor’s Food Policy Council adopts  initiative to rebuild local processing. i iti ti t b ild l l i
  12. 12. We are at a time in history when we face the most profound social and economic restructuring in many generations • State and Federal Governments should adopt  p policies that re‐invigorate sustainable agricultural  g g production. • Conserve valuable energy and natural resources by  encouraging the development of moderate scale,  sustainable integrated agricultural systems,  employing millions of families and making our  l i illi f f ili d ki economy and food system more resilient.
  13. 13. Multifunctionality of Agriculture • Re-orientation of our ag / food production system could make our communities and our nation stronger • Could also provide essential “Ecosystem Service.” • Expand economic opportunity to millions globally, thus relieving social discord.
  14. 14. Your Part? • Become an OEC member Help achieve changes in law and policy, properly re-connecting “externalized costs” of industrial production with those practices. • Vote with your dollars Patronize local / organic producers. • Take action Voice your opinion to lawmakers, media, and community leaders! Visit Ohio Environmental Council 1207 Grandview Avenue, Suite 201 Columbus, OH 43212 (614) 487-7506