It's All About

Sustainable Agriculture

Agriculture is constantly evolving. It was able to span generations because it was able to adapt to a new reality and to new technologies. Yet some people still have negative opinions on the subject and believe that everything is too intensive and just going too fast nowadays. It is therefore our duty to promote and to support the kind of responsible and sustainable agriculture that we practice.
In September of each year the UPA organizes an open house event in farms across Quebec, which provides people unfamiliar with today's agriculture with an opportunity to become acquainted with modern practices. However, we must continue to demonstrate the importance of this field and the necessity of its sustainability beyond this yearly event. What captures the public's attention is too often agriculture's negative aspects. But what makes front page news doesn't necessarily reflect what actually happens.

What I've been able to observe from my own experience is that farmers are committed and passionate about their work and intend to pass down their business to the next generation. In my opinion, this is an appropriate portrayal of what sustainable agriculture is all about and several elements are taken into consideration. The most important, at least from my perspective, is respect: respect for the land, for animals, for the neighbours, for equipment, for rules and regulations, and for the environment as a whole. To make agriculture sustainable it must also include the notion of cost-effectiveness. Despite respecting all the rules and standards, animals and neighbours, if there isn't enough money on the bottom line then passing on the farm to the next generation become uncertain. Since the job of farmer is competing with so many others, this career path needs to be appealing!

Crop production plays a critical role because that's where it all begins: feeding livestock. To produce milk in an efficient and economical fashion, cows need a sufficient quantity of grain and fodder. To do this, the land needs to be hearty in the medium and long terms. The quality of management in the field improves crop yield and that process continues up to the stable. Herd productivity constantly increases and that's how it will be for years to come. We are constantly improving the herd's living conditions to ensure their wellbeing, and they return the favour rather well. They are often better off than we are! This is a great example of the kind of respect that is shown for animals, all the while being concerned with two other essential elements: a strong genetic improvement program and a balanced diet. In fact, in terms of genetics, health criteria have been taken into consideration to improve cow longevity.

When addressing the issue of sustainable agriculture, we need to look forward. I know that most farmers do everything they can to pass on a robust and fertile land to future generations. After all, we have a key role: to feed the planet for a long time to come. It's up to us to let people know and impress upon them the full importance.
 
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