Created: 4/15/15 (Wed) | Topic: Leadership
An essay on ag and sustainability
Theresa Seibel is a high school student in Virginia. This column was originally published as the winner of the Agriculture Council of America’s 2015 National Ag Day Essay Contest.
Agriculture: Sustaining Future Generations
By Theresa Seibel
My earliest engagement in agriculture was at age one-and-a-half, playing in a hayfield as it was being converted into a commercial vineyard. My parents aspired to diversify our farm in anticipation of a third generation — a task which was becoming ever more challenging in the face of urban sprawl and in view of neighborhoods that had once been orchards. Choosing a crop became as much a matter of the value it would bring to our community, as it was a matter of learning about production technology and best management practices. Agriculture, present and future, is dependent upon perpetual advancements, succeeding generations, and understanding and support of others.
Agriculture sustains perpetual development. Advancements in technology and practice enhance sustainability that will secure human food and fiber needs while maintaining environmental quality. While protecting diverse ecosystems, sustainability addresses land, water, and natural resource management while ensuring food security. Farm operations will remain economically viable because sustainability rests in building and using what we have now while securing a better future.
Agriculture sustains future generations. By 2050 we will exceed 9.6 billion people globally. The responsibility to feed this estimated population resides with farmers, who produce the food the current 7.2 billion people on the planet consume. Farmers will have to produce 70 percent more food in the future. Additionally, food production in developing countries must be doubled in coming years to ensure every person has an adequate intake of calories to survive. This challenge is daunting. As development for housing continues, so does the loss of precious land used for agriculture. The implementation of biotechnology will enable farmers to combat this issue by increasing crop yields while reducing environmental impact and chemical input.
Agriculture sustains connections. Daily opportunities to grow and learn stand firm on a heritage of perseverance and resilience. Sound relationships are created that bridge the consumer and the producer, connections that span decades and are supported by ideals of trust and responsibility for others. Misconceptions about agriculture are addressed with these positive interactions, overcoming a major challenge that faces agriculture today. Our industry is undergirded and protected by a dynamic support system of service providers, manufacturers, marketers, and consumers, among others. Agriculturists support each other in hard and happy times, ending even the most trying days with a sense of optimism.
It is critical for agriculturists to be vocal and transparent in our efforts to provide for others and do so in a way that resonates with the general public. With most of the population removed from agriculture, telling our story is critical to enhancing and exponentially growing production in a way that is sustainable for both human and natural resources.