Target: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack
Goal: Ensure that USDA subsidies support development of perennial and biologically diverse agriculture as a sustainable alternative to conventional agriculture
For centuries the United States, along with much of the world, have depended heavily on annual agricultural systems to secure growing populations with food, but these systems have proven to be highly unsustainable. Development of perennial staple crops that can be integrated into biologically diverse agricultural systems has the potential to solve our most pressing challenges in agriculture, environmental conservation, and long-term food security.
Conventional annual-crop agriculture requires that acres of farmland are tilled and lie fallow each year. This repetitious practice erodes soil drastically, damages soil ecosystems and reduces fertility; in response, soil then requires increasing amounts of fertilizer and pesticides which are derived from fossil fuels. In addition, these systems allow immense chemical runoff into freshwater and groundwater. Perennial crops, on the other hand, remain in the soil for many growing seasons developing larger root systems, allowing beneficial soil ecosystems to thrive, holding fertile topsoil in place, and conserving water.
Please support the Land Institute and Land-Grant Universities across the United States in their research and development of perennial crops and integration of perennials into biologically diverse agricultural systems. By redirecting USDA subsidies away from destructive conventional agricultural practices and towards perennial agriculture and biologically diverse systems, we can develop a sustainable agriculture, and food security for the long-term future.
Dear Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture,
Perennial and biologically diverse agricultural systems have the potential to ensure a more sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation, and food security in America for the long term. Massive soil degradation and erosion, dependence on fossil fuels, pollution, and loss of biological diversity prove that conventional annual-crop agriculture is destructive and unsustainable.
The Land Institute has been a leader for several decades in developing perennial staple crops, and Land-Grant Universities are building on this vitally important research. Perennial staple crops remain in the soil throughout multiple growing seasons, developing large root systems which hold valuable soil in place, and supporting beneficial soil ecosystems. They do not depend on fossil fuel-based chemical inputs and they conserve water. In addition, these perennial crops can be integrated into biologically diverse farm systems that require less human interference.
Please support this effort to create a more sustainable agriculture and long-term food security by redirecting agricultural subsidies towards developing and implementing perennial and biologically diverse agricultural systems in the United States.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Fishermansdaughter via Flickr