Sustainable Agriculture

Key Facts

Sustainable Agriculture:

  • Is as productive as industrial agriculture methods
  • Reduces “external” costs incurred by industrial agriculture, where negative impacts on soil, water, air and human health are paid for by later by governments and taxpayers.

Why It Matters

Sustainable agriculture refers to farming that is good for the environment, animals and people. This approach recognizes that the earth needs to be in good health because it must continue to provide for future generations. This type of farming is based on a whole ecosystem approach, not focused just on the individual product —like vegetables, meat, eggs etc.— but on investing in a healthy system overall — a more sustainable food system — including the wellbeing of people and animals, community health, ecological health and soil health.

Sustainable agriculture also doesn’t rely on adding in “external inputs” such as synthetic fertilizer and pesticides. This helps farmers be less reliant on buying things off-farm. This approach makes use of its own “outputs” by composting the crop waste (stalks, stubble, leaves, etc.), and applying animal manure as fertilizer onto fields. It is a “closed-loop cycle” that builds soil health, clean water systems and biodiversity rather than depleting them. If done right, it can even use those healthy soils to trap carbon, helping to slow climate change.