Sustainable Practices in Place at 70% of U.S. Farms

by | Apr 22, 2009

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agristudy2Rabobank has released its sustainable agriculture survey that finds that nearly 70 percent of the U.S. farmers and ranchers have taken steps toward implementing sustainable agricultural practices.

According to Rabobank Farm & Ranch Survey, three out of every four U.S. farmers are aware of sustainable practices, and most have used direct seeding, minimized the use of chemicals or employed crop rotation. The survey targeted farmers who own or operate a farm grossing $250,000 or more in one of three U.S. census regions: Midwest, South and West.

The survey finds that farmers and ranchers in California use alternative energy sources, and the reduction of energy use is more prevalent in the West (45 percent) compared to North Central region (29 percent).

A growing number of California growers and processors are using the sun to help power their operations. Wineries such as Constellation Wines, Frog’s Leap, Foster’s Wine Estates, Jarvis and Robert Keenan, have installed solar systems.

There are regional differences. The survey reveals that in the North Central and South regions, higher-revenue farms (more than $1 million annually) have taken steps toward sustainable agriculture (North Central: 89 percent vs. 67 percent of lower-revenue farms; South: 97 percent vs. 65 percent lower-revenue farms). However in the West, more lower-revenue farms have moved toward sustainable agriculture (74 percent vs. 51 percent for farms with revenues exceeding $1 million).

Direct seeding is more prevalent in the South and North Central (64 percent and 61 percent respectively vs. 44 percent in the West). It is also more prevalent among large acreage farms (75 percent for 1,000 acres or more vs. 52 percent for less than 1,000 acres).

To leverage their eco-friendly operations, a recent report indicates that farmers must focus more on communicating their story of sustainable agriculture if they want consumers to compensate them for their conservation efforts.

Another report reveals that reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is a trend in the U.S. dairy industry, which aims to cut by 25 percent annual GHG emissions related to the production of fluid milk by 2020.

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