Ron Rosmann presentation - Sustainable Agriculture Research

Toward Sustainable Agricultural
Systems in the 21st Century
Drivers and constraints
• Biggest driver : Industrialization of Agriculture
over the last 40 years
Decreased diversity and crop rotations
Vicious Economic Circle for farmers
• 1969-2009-Farmers have doubled productivity
• 2009-Earned $40 Billion less than in 1969 in net
cash income
• Net cash income in 2008 (the best year farmers
have had since 1974) was lower than in 1929
• Net cash income in 2009 was near zero
essentially the same as in 1932
• Source: Ken Meter, Crossroads Resource Center
Minneapolis, MN
What kind of food system do we have
• 60% of the food comes from only 2% of the
• Only a handful of corporations control the
input, processing, and marketing of most of
what we eat
• The producer’s share is down to 19 cents of
the food dollar
Transformative Changes
• Transformative change the last 40 years
towards two kinds of agriculture and a
shrinking middle class
• The new transformative change of the next 40
• Largely driven by Consumers
• Includes all kinds of agriculture, the
foundation of which has been certified organic
and locally grown
• Health impacts and true costs of a “cheap food system”
• Emerging research implicates pesticides, hormones,
antibiotics, food additives, bio-tech, commodity crops,
compromised food safety
• Human Diseases- Obesity, Diabetes, Cardiac disease,
Cancers, Reproductive and Developmental, Endocrine
Disruptions, Asthma and Food Allergies, Attention
Deficit Disorder, Early Puberty, E. Coli, Salmonella and a
host of other not understood ever- increasing health
What transformative changes do we
need in Rural America
From the view point of a farmer for 37 years
Loss of farmers, businesses and population
Drain of financial resources off the farm and rural communities
Industrial Agricultural removes much of its profits from rural
• Confining livestock under one roof
• The kind of agriculture we have now only financially benefits the
few and the very large
• Bigger is still considered better by many farmers and people in
general- 120 ft wide planters and combines that can harvest 5,000
bushel/hour, 1 million bushel grain bins at the Farm Progress Show
Transformative Changes that we need
More young Farmers
More Credit and entry opportunities
More Rural Infrastructure
Small Meat and animal product processing plants,
food processing plants for fruits and vegetables,
etc. community kitchens, Institutional food
service, development of local and regional food
• Job opportunities- Iowa could create 6000 jobs if
we provided our own fruits and vegetables for
our state alone.
Transformative change
• Farm program reform- reward green practices of
all kinds including energy, CSP is the best
• Tax carbon at the source
• Get the livestock back on more farms and spread
out with ownership by the farmer not the packer
and food retailer.
• Get Beef and Dairy cattle back on Grass,
recognizing the world-wide climate stability value
of grass and consumption of animal products.
Transformative Changes
• Public Research $ for the public good
• One of the best examples being public plant breeding not
the holding hostage of our world’s seeds by a few
• Access and competition in the market place and “Seeds and
• More science-based on-farm research in complex farming
systems with universities and researchers-Practical
Farmers of Iowa
• Transformative change in what college students are
learning about how food is produced
• Transfer of farming skills, knowledge, and experience from
farmers like ourselves to the next generation of farmers
Who will feed the World?
Who will feed the World?
Who will feed the world?
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