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Researchers Call for Ag Policies Focused on Sustainability

1 July 2007

Agricultural policies should focus more on developing and rewarding sustainable, multifunctional landscapes that benefit both varied commodity production and the environment, and less on merely maximizing crop yield, according to a policy forum article in a recent edition of the journal Science.

The paper, “Sustainable Development of the Agricultural Bio-Economy”, is a call to action by 14 researchers in the Green Lands, Blue Waters consortium.

A sustainable approach to developing the bioeconomy requires that we raise the level of conversation about what we call “multifunctional” agriculture. It can be thought of, in its simplest form, as having strategic production goals for both commodity and environmental benefits.

Most plant research is based on producing the highest yield. But there are additional benefits to be gained by using a broader approach that also considers concerns about climate change, wildlife habitat, soil and water, and healthy economies in rural areas.

—Jeri Neal, Iowa State University

The keys are more extensive and diverse uses of perennial crops and compensating farmers for the environmental benefits they provide.

The authors propose a national innovation system (funded by a $20 million annual federal investment) to foster dialogue about policy alternatives and a network of research and demonstration projects to research real-world complexities on a life-size scale, with efforts evaluated scientifically and guided by research results.

Green Lands, Blue Water is a consortium of land-grant universities and agricultural, environmental and rural development non-profit organizations. The research study was led by Nick Jordan, professor in agronomy and plant genetics at the University of Minnesota. It was funded by the Kellogg Foundation and the Coastal Oceans Program of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.

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July 1, 2007 in Biomass, Policy, Sustainability | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

I agree that farmers ought to manage the land so as to keep it productive. And if negative environmental practices are detected the government should act.

But I would say that about any industry or activity. I would say it about a person's lawn or car.

So I see this Green Lands, Blue Waters policy statement as just crap. A recruiting of feel good words such as 'diversity' and 'multifunctional agriculture' by the usual suspects. They merely want $20M per year to offer unneeded advice to other people.

Hey. The Dodgers lost!. I'm a crank! Whatever!

The advantage of academic based studies is hopefully a lack of bias which vested interests inevitably have. By the way the researchers were asked by Sen. Chambliss to do the study. These scientists would probably earn much more working for corporations and we should honor the public service they provide. If this study did cost $20 million then it cost the average American roughly 7 cents each. We need much more unbiased research behind the formation of public policy. How would we know about negative environmental impacts without baseline studies by impartial investigators?

You assume they are unbiased. Academics make big fees in consulting, in foundation work, and their salaries and perks are certainly not trivial.

Corporations and the government and politicans pay them. I don't see why I should assume they work for any interests except those and their own. And I don't ask them to do so.

Academics are quite good at posing as disinterested angels quietly giving their lives to advance truth. Believe that as you choose.

I want my 7 cents back !!

...academics are totally & completely unbiased at least in the 60% of the overal budget that on average universities are funded directly from 'industry', 'corporations', 'foundations' & the mil-ind-comp, ie, your taxbucks and so on for 'research' ...unbiased in their favor, that is... so, where have you been for the last 50 years ?... check the recent $500m (yeh, million) from BP to UCB for 'biodiesel' research ... another $225m (notice the m)from Exxon, etc to Stanford for carbon sequestration...academic freedom ?...sure...as long as it remains inside the pocket of the 'indcorp' complex...

7 cents here and 7 cents there and first thing you know it adds up ... to 14 cents !!!

Check out how the Aussies have been doing it for years. LandCare. A partnership of volunteers, farmers, community groups, local and federal government with the aim of sustainable management of the natural environment.

www.landcareonline.com

...and that's why the Great Barrier Reef, a monumental job of creation & evolution of which we have absolutely no clue on how to go about it or re-create it in spite or our arrogance, will be dead, gone for the most part, in the next ten years ...

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