Published Dec 18, 2009

Ron Rosmann on: What is Sustainable Agriculture?

By Teresa Opheim

No one has said it better than PFI farmer Ron Rosmann, who, with his wife, Maria, is PFI’s Sustainable Agriculture Achievement award winner for 2010. Ron wrote the following for The Practical Farmer newsletter in the Fall of 1988. What I like about this is that it isn’t an abstract definition, but a list one could use to check decision-making. Thanks, Ron, the insights that still continue to improve PFI today!

Says Ron:
“Here is a partial list of what I think the ingredients of sustainable agriculture should be:
1. Diversified crop and livestock operation
2. Lower fertilizer and pesticide inputs
3. Fairly labor-intensive
4. Not too large
5. Utilizing “appropriate sizes and types” of technology
6. Employs water and soil stewardship principles
7. Is family and community centered
8. Relies more on self-ingenuity and experience for answers to farming problems
9. Children partake in responsibilities on the farm
10. There should be closeness to God and nature
11. There should be a fair economic return for labor and production
12. A large plant and animal species gene pool should be maintained

Some of the intended results of these ingredients would include:
1. Widespread ownership of land and resources
2. Better soil and water quality
3. Would help farmers maintain control over their own lives
4. Foster a sense of rootedness in both the land and the community
5. Maintains and improves quality of life
6. Is a system that will last”