Reflections from Jen…
When I found myself searching cow images (and mulling dairy puns) for the third time in the span of two weeks, I had to stop to think. In all my years writing for Environmental Leader and Energy Manager Today, I’m not sure I ever wrote about dairy farms until last week, and suddenly they were everywhere. (Read them here.)
But I really shouldn’t be surprised. The widespread adoption of sustainable agriculture is an increasing necessity if, as Unilever puts it, “we are to feed over 9 billion people without depleting the planet’s natural resources.” In fact, though I haven’t written much about cows, specifically, I’ve been covering sustainable agriculture more and more in recent months, particularly as it relates to supply chains. It’s a key topic, not just as it relates to our continued ability to feed the planet but in terms of our continued ability to operate in nearly any industry:
- Auto manufacturers and tire companies need to ensure a continued supply of rubber.
- Clothing makers must be able to count on a sustainable supply of cotton.
- Farmers of all types need to continually improve the proportion of crops that are harvested and delivered in order to stay competitive as resources like water decrease.
- Construction companies, furniture makers, packaging companies and the like can’t continue to create their products if deforestation continues unabated.
- Food and beverage companies need… Well, you get the point.
The definition of sustainable agriculture can sound so simple. We can say, “Sustainable agriculture is the way we meet society’s food and textile needs in the present without compromising the ability of our future generations to meet their needs.” But we all know it’s far more than that. When every person involved in an agricultural system – growers, processors, distributors, retailers, customers, waste managers, etc. – has different needs, different methods, and different goals, making sustainable agriculture work across all aspects is a task of epic proportions.
As an article from the Agricultural Sustainability Institute of UC Davis says, sustainable agriculture is “more than a collection of practices. It is also a process of negotiation: a push and pull between the sometimes competing interests of an individual farmer or of people in a community as they work to solve complex problems about how we grow our food and fiber.”
So I expect I’ll be continuing to write about how companies are making sustainable agriculture work. I may even be writing more about cows. Please feel free to send thoughts about trends, initiatives, insights and ideas to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, enjoy the waning days of summer. Moo.