Editorial: Open minds required to solve agriculture issues

One of my favorite things about agriculture is the industry’s diversity. It takes every aspect of the industry to meet the ever-growing consumer demand. With fewer than 2 percent of the world’s population engaged in farming or ranching, and the number of acres devoted to farmland decreasing, we as agriculturalists are constantly working on ways to improve farming techniques. Sustainable agriculturalists are one group working towards improving farming methods.

The mission of sustainable agriculturalists is to promote farming techniques that are profitable and environmentally sound. Sustainable agriculture works to promote organic farming methods. Some organic farm plots are even beginning to pop up in urban areas. In an ideal sustainable world, farming would be done completely organic without the use of machines, fossil fuels and pesticides.

What I have noticed about those who are involved in sustainable agriculture is that they are often looked down upon, even though they are a part of agriculture like any other farmer. It is not uncommon for those who are a part of the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources to give a sustainable agriculture major the “stink eye” because their methods of farming and feeding the world differ greatly from those who are a part of traditional agriculture. Traditional agriculture, is a practice that many family farms still carry out today. It is often non-chemical farming, but is different than organic farming.

What I have come to realize is you have to take most things with a grain of salt, because there will be two sides and multiple opinions to nearly anything this world has to offer. So, are we as traditional agriculturalist in the right to immediately reject these methods of sustainability? By the year 2020, the world will have to support upwards of 8.4 billion people. We should be working to sustain our land; after all, we aren’t going to be given any more.

In my opinion, yes, we need to use our resources wisely and work towards healthier food options. However, without the use of today’s farming technologies, it would be nearly impossible to feed the ever-growing population. Today’s farmers have developed efficient ways to produce the best yields possible while still taking care of the land. What it comes down to is do you, or do you not, want to eat?

I believe there is always room for improvement, and that can be done with the help of sustainable agriculturalists. However, what needs to be looked at is the big picture. An ideal world is not going to exist overnight but must be worked towards a little at a time. Instead of trying to eradicate the use of fossil fuel and pesticides in farming all together, agriculturists from all backgrounds need to work towards alternatives in these areas that will lead to greater efficiency.

I myself am a strong advocate for the agriculture industry. I want to continue to be a part of this industry that affects everyone’s daily lives, and I want to continue to improve it. Instead of looking down upon those in sustainable agriculture we should be working to give them a better understanding of our world.

I have found, from speaking with students who identify themselves as sustainable agriculturalists, that many involved in sustainable agriculture come from urban backgrounds. They haven’t grown up with the knowledge that many coming from rural backgrounds are already equipped with.

Like most controversial topics, understanding various agriculture practices is about taking a walk in someone else’s shoes for once and seeing the issue from both sides. In an ever-changing world, we all should be working to continue to improve the industry. After all, in such a quickly changing world, can anything really be sustainable?

By Gina Olsen
Corner Post Staff Writer