Act By Midnight March 9: Tell The USDA What You Want Food & Farming To Look Like In 50 Years

Source: Organic Consumers Association

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to know what your vision is for the U.S. food and farming system over the next 50 years.

TAKE ACTION BY MIDNIGHT MARCH 9: Please sign the petition telling the USDA you want a regenerative food and farming system.

On March 2, the Organic Consumers Association presented testimony at the USDA's "listening session" on the "Visioning of U.S. Agriculture Systems for Sustainable Production." Now it's your turn—the USDA has asked for public comments on what a "sustainable" food and farming system should look like.

Congress defined sustainable agriculture in the 1990 Farm Bill as:

An integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:

- Satisfy human food and fiber needs;

- Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends;

- Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls;

- Sustain the economic viability of farm operations; and

- Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.

By this definition, U.S. agriculture is a long way from being sustainable.

To begin with, current U.S. production isn't meeting our needs. We don't even grow enough vegetables for every American to have the USDA-recommended daily allowance. It's no wonder Americans are so unhealthy.

Moreover, U.S. agriculture isn't "enhancing"—or even making "the most efficient use of"—"the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends." The soil of U.S. cropland is swept and washed away 10 times faster than it is replenished. This costs us $37.6 billion every year.

We can do better. That's why OCA has created this petition, asking the USDA to shift to a diverse, resilient, adaptive and regenerative food system that works with nature, not against it.

TAKE ACTION BY MIDNIGHT MARCH 9: Please sign the petition telling the USDA you want a regenerative food and farming system.

Sign the petition here


Over the next 50 years, U.S. agriculture must shift to diverse, resilient, adaptive and regenerative systems that mimic nature, stimulate healthy soils, restore ecosystems, increase biodiversity and build communities of practice, to ensure the vitality of human health and local economies.


We envision agricultural systems that are:


- Accessible to all. Everyone's right to safe, healthy, nutrient-dense food will be recognized and fulfilled. Agriculture will be a thriving, widespread and common practice that nearly everyone engages in.


- Regionally self-sufficient. Food and fiber production will be integrated into daily life in homes, schools, health-care and community centers, workplaces and public spaces, in urban, suburban and rural communities. Most food and fiber will be consumed close to where it is produced. Waste will be eliminated and surplus will be distributed.


- Healing to people and the planet. Food and farming will be the foundation of individual, public and environmental health. Food production will have shed its greenhouse gas emissions and become a sink that cleans the atmosphere of pollution. Agriculture will be used to create resilience to and eventually reverse climate change. Food and fiber production systems will be planned and managed to restore soils, waterways, ecosystems, environments and wild spaces.


- Fair. Food and fiber production will be an honored profession. The true value of producers' efforts will be recognized and compensated. Production systems will no longer rely on sweated labor, prices below the cost of production, or negative externalities. New economic systems will emerge to create greater opportunities for more people in food and fiber production.


- Democratic. Localities will have decision-making authority and control over their resources, while acting with neighboring communities to establish regional cooperation. Robust food policy councils at the municipal, county, state and regional levels will guide agricultural systems. The councils will be instruments of democratic and civic engagement with governmental decision-making capacity on issues relating to health, energy, the planning of developed areas, the protection of environmentally sensitive areas, the restoration of wild areas, resource utilization, management of the economy, etc. Participation in food policy councils will be open to all.


We recommend the USDA focus its research on:


- Nutrient density and diversity, to reorient food production for quality as well as calories.


- Soil regeneration. Soil is the foundation of life on Earth. Research should focus on soil as a complex living entity to be managed for maximum carbon storage, water holding capacity, production, nutrition, and resilience. Soil building strategies, including composting, biochar, adaptive multi-paddock grazing and plant biodiversity, should be investigated.


- Highly productive polycultures that integrate many varieties of plants and animals, annuals and perennials, and food and fiber, to maximize productivity, soil health, nutrient density and pest suppression, in a closed system where all inputs and sources of fertility are produced on the farm. Design strategies from permaculture, organic farming, biodynamic farming, indigenous nations, and other traditional farming methods should be investigated.


- On-Farm energy production that doesn't hinder or compete with food production.


- Decision-making structures that spur regenerative agriculture, agriculture such as collaborative research, food policy councils, participatory budgeting, collectives, public banks, community supported agriculture, seed banks, community land trusts, and worker-run businesses.


- Education of the next generation of food producers with farm-to-school programs, school gardens and classes in nutrition, holistic management, ecology, etc., to spark an interest in, and provide the skills needed for, careers in food production.

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