Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract only
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/18/2008
Publication Date: 12/8/2008
Citation: Hanson, J.D., Hendrickson, J.R. 2008. Critical Issues Impacting the Future Sustainability of Agricultural Systems. Meeting Abstract. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: Rapid changes occurring in the agricultural environment are placing increased demands on producers. To respond to these demands, farmers need to manage their systems by reducing risk, while retaining management flexibility. Integrated agricultural systems have the potential to meet these objectives. Six critical issues must be addressed by agricultural managers, policy makers, and researchers to ensure a sustainable agriculture. First, sustainable systems must be flexible enough to respond to the future challenges facing agriculture. Second, newly emerging social and political factors include rising fuel costs, obesity, potential decreases in commodity subsidies, consumer awareness and demands to know how food is produced, and economic returns to land are beginning to drive agriculture. Third, American agriculture operates in a market driven economy that is impacted by policy, technology, and environmental concerns and in turn affect the scale of operation, while controlling management flexibility. Fourth, agricultural incentives control management decisions often to the detriment of the environment. Fifth, enhanced technology has increased the complexity of farming. Sixth, future agricultural systems must address emerging issues in land use, decline in work force and societal support of farming, global competition, changing social values in both taste and convenience of food, and increasing concerns for food safety and the environment. Policies with adequate incentives must be provided for ecosystem services such as clean water and air, productive and healthy soil, habitat development and restoration, and carbon sequestration and storage. Future agricultural systems need to be developed to balance multiple goals and ensure sustainability. A dynamic set of integrated agriculture production principles and practices will allow producers the flexibility to achieve this balance.