Toward Sustainable Agriculture: Policies, Practices & Opportunities

June 17, 2020 12:00 pm — 1:30 pm
Webinar Only

An ELI Member Webinar

Agriculture is facing a crossroads: while technologies and innovative practices are increasing productivity, these advances are not always sustainable. Furthermore, climate change is contributing to unpredictable crop yields. Sustainability has become an ever-growing concern among industry leaders, which may challenge the use of some long held practices. Technologies and traditional agriculture practices still common worldwide – tilling, monoculture operations, and synthetic fertilizer and pesticide use, amongst others – degrade and deplete topsoil over time, leading to erosion, run off, and non-point source pollution. Further, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides have the potential to damage the broader environment through air and water pollution.

In February, 21 agricultural groups launched the Farmers for a Sustainable Future (FSF) coalition to forge a more sustainable industry by focusing on improved soil health, water conservation, and the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. While government measures and the Farm Bill have long supported voluntary incentive-based conservation programs, some believe these efforts to be inconsistently applied, subject to volatile markets and international trade schemes, and call for more of a balance between broad GHG goals and on the ground work reducing nonpoint source pollution and the overuse of pesticides. Yet overall, GHG emissions from agriculture appear to be declining and improvements in productivity require fewer inputs such as land, water, and nutrients.

What is driving sustainability in agricultural? What are the best practices to foster sustainability in agriculture? What are the conservation components of the current Farm Bill and are they seen as successful? Our panelists explored these questions and more as they dove into the opportunities and obstacles for promoting sustainability in agriculture.

Linda Breggin, Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs, and Senior Attorney, Environmental Law Institute, Moderator
Tim Fink, Federal Policy Director, American Farmland Trust
Amy Hughes, Senior Manager, Technology, Working Lands, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)
Rachel Lattimore, Senior Vice President and General Counsel CropLife America

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