How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? We are officially one week into 2022, are you committed to the goals you’ve set for yourself this year?
The new year welcomes an opportunity to reflect on accomplishments of the past year and set goals for the year ahead. I follow an Oregon farmer on social media that noted as a farmer, he doesn’t make new year’s resolutions. Instead, he shared that without continuous improvement, he would likely not be farming on the same land his great-grandfather did.
Farmers continue to lean into innovation. With each new planting season, farmers are recommitting to their goals and contributing to a safe, sustainable food supply – and keep doing better than the year before. The year ahead comes with new calves, kids and piglets born, a new harvest, and perhaps a chance to try a new practice or technology on the farm.
Farmers are leading the charge and setting the standards for environmental improvement. Across all industries, farmers have already made significant progress towards a resource positive future. There is a great opportunity in agriculture to work together and support sustainability claims with real examples and measurable results.
Agricultural institutions and organizations are setting measurable goals to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and working together to achieve them. On-farm assessments of current outputs and emissions have aided in creating these goals. Benchmarking a baseline and measuring outcomes help to quantify the work farmers are doing to excel towards conservation goals.
The U.S. dairy industry was the first in the food agriculture sector to conduct a full life cycle assessment of GHG emissions. They have made significant and measurable progress towards their goals thanks to increasingly modern and innovative farming practices, but they are not stopping there. The National Dairy Council, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management, Inc. have worked together to set goals for 2050 to achieve GHG neutrality, optimize water use while maximizing recycling, and improve water quality by optimizing the utilization of manure and nutrients.
America’s pig farmers recognize that their livelihoods are directly tied to the land, water and air. The National Pork Checkoff is committed to helping farmers protect those natural resources through managing manure and using buffer strips and windbreaks to improve air, soil and water quality.
Farmer-leaders from the National Corn Growers Association determined their top five environmental priorities to enhance corn production sustainability by 2030. These goals include increasing land-use efficiency, increasing irrigation water use efficiency, reducing soil erosion, increasing energy use efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has set goals to reach climate neutrality by 2040. The U.S. beef industry is leading the way with the lowest GHG emissions footprint of all beef-producing countries in the world. Beef farmers and ranchers are creative and innovative in their approach to global progress. The beef industry has also set economic and social goals to further ensure long-term viability for farms and communities.
Conservation groups and programs across Wisconsin are bringing together farmers from all industries to share ideas and work together, collaborating towards shared goals. Wisconsin Farm Bureau is proud to support our member’s sustainability initiatives and work with partner groups and industry stakeholders to advance sustainability goals.
These voluntary initiatives are examples of how agriculture has set itself apart as a frontrunner for achieving a resource positive future. The Oregon farmer on social media is using the New Year as another opportunity to seek better ways to care for his land, animals and community. Farmers continue to innovate towards goals of reducing GHG emissions, preserving soil and water, and protecting the air.
What are your conservation and sustainability goals for 2022?
Rachel Gerbitz is WFBF’s Director of Sustainability Communications and Partnerships. In this newly-created role, she oversees the organization’s sustainability communication efforts. Rachel grew up in Rock County where she was involved in 4-H and the Wisconsin Junior Holstein Association. She now lives in Kaukauna. In her spare time, Rachel manages her small herd of registered Jersey cattle.
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