The United States has been practicing sustainability long before it became the issue it is today. Our farmers, fishermen, foresters and partners across a range of industries are committed to environmental conservation.

Here are five facts about U.S. sustainability in agriculture:

  1. Sustainability in U.S. agriculture stretches back more than a century. We have a comprehensive set of papers that summarizes decades of major U.S. federal laws that have benefited the crop, poultry, livestock, fishery and forestry sectors. See here.
  1. Along with the USSA, there are a number of U.S. organizations committed to industry self-management to improve their sustainability efforts. In 2006, Field to Market began organizing a collaborative effort across the food and agricultural and food distribution and supply chain to benchmark sustainability performance and demonstrate continuous improvement. Today, Field to Market has more than 100 members including Mars Incorporated, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Walmart and numerous farm and agricultural associations. See here for its latest report.
  1. Recycling happens even when we don’t realize it. Rendering and leather making are actually two sides of the same recycling coin. In the U.S., approximately half of a single beef animal is deemed inedible. Renderers and leather tanners take the parts people don’t eat and turn them into new product materials.
  1. Industries are constantly evolving and improving sustainability measures. Almond growers use 33% less water today to grow half a kilogram (1 pound) of almonds than they did twenty years ago. Micro-irrigation allows water to be applied to tree root areas where it’s needed. For other crop growers, GPS technology integrated with modern equipment allows farmers to map their fields with high precision, and to vary plant density and the application of other inputs, all optimized for field conditions with accuracy measured within millimeters.
  2. There are a lot of misconceptions about farmers’ production practices. While there are many pervasive myths about lack of sustainability on large-scale farms, the truth is, recently released USDA data shows that 99% of U.S. farms are family operations and USSA farmers will tell you one of the main reasons they stress sustainable growing methods and continuous improvement is to leave something worth passing on to the next generation.