Sustainable farming takes root in agriculture
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: May 24th, 2011
The sustainable farming movement, cradled in Northern California, has gone mainstream, challenging the industrial model that has ruled American farming for more than half a century. Eight big foundations - the Ford Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation - have just banded together in a group, called AGree, to examine food systems and mediate the conflict between conventional and alternative farming. An emerging scientific consensus that alternative farm systems work, and that the environmental and health costs of industrial agriculture are too high, has drawn powerful new interests to what was a parochial arena controlled by commodity groups. These costs in the United States include depletion of soil fertility and aquifers, from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to the Ogallala aquifer in the High Plains. They also include giant algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico from fertilizer runoff in the Mississippi River, antibiotic resistance from heavy use of antibiotics in livestock, pollinator loss from pesticides and large-scale, single-crop farming, and water pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations.