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Ten of the Best: America’s Environmentally Sustainable Farmers and Producers

By April 21, 2022Perspectives
American farmers

This Earth Day, The U.S. Sustainability Alliance highlights some of the many American farmers and producers championing environmental sustainability.

Their goal is to conserve natural resources and protect the soil and, in so doing, leave the land in better shape for the next generation.

  1. production agricultureThe Hardwick Family, cotton farmers

For multi-award-winning cotton farmer Jay Hardwick, sustainability means balancing the needs of the land with the needs of the business. It is about protecting the biodiversity of the farm and the wildlife habitat that surrounds it while safeguarding the income stream on which the family depends.

Listen to our conversation with Jay and his sons Mead and Marshall about sustainability, technology innovation and handing over to the next generation.

  1. sustainability podcastScott Matthews, rice farmer

When it comes to water conservation, Arkansas rice farmer Scott Matthews is a master. He describes his approach to irrigation as a giant mathematical equation. And it appears to be working. Due to his precise irrigation conservation practices, Scott has already reduced water use in his rice fields by 40 percent.

Tune in to our podcast chat with Scott on using less water and creating wildlife habitats.

  1. Monte PetersonMonte Peterson, soybean and corn farmer

This fourth-generation producer from North Dakota is a strong advocate of GM crops, which he first started using 25 years ago. Monte says that implementing this technology alongside other practices, such as precision planting and soil nutrient monitoring, has led to cost savings, better yields, and higher quality, safer crops.

Read Monte’s blog post on farming sustainably with GMOs.

  1. Alaskan fishermenBill Thomas, fisherman

Native Alaskan Bill Thomas is a commercial fisherman, a politician and a sustainability advocate. We recently interviewed him for the USSA podcast when he provided a fascinating insight into Alaska’s fishing industry and its responsible approach to fisheries management. In fact, as Bill explains, sustainability has been enshrined in Alaska’s State Constitution since 1959.

Read Bill’s story.

  1. organic farmingJeff Huckaby, organic farmer

Jeff Huckaby is a fourth-generation farmer who learned to grow carrots and potatoes from his grandfather at an early age. He is also a first-generation organic farmer voted Organic Farmer of the Year in 2020. For Jeff, sustainable farming is the key to productivity. Ultimately, it leaves the soil in better condition making it stronger and healthier for each new crop.

Read our interview with Jeff on organic production’s bright future.

  1. Peter HvidstenPeter Hvidsten, wheat farmer

Fifth-generation wheat grower Peter Hvidsten believes that less is more. “I don’t ever want to waste one cent of my money on any investment or any input that’s not necessary,” he says. Whether applying fertilizer or tilling the ground, Peter advocates using just the right amount and reducing the number of field passes with his machinery to save fuel and money. It is about being as efficient and sustainable as possible.

Read our interview with Peter on why less input means better output.

  1. Barry EvansBarry Evans, cotton and grain sorghum farmer

Barry Evans, Field to Market’s 2021 Farmer of the Year, was a recent guest on the USSA podcast. It was fascinating to hear about his pioneering approach to water and soil conservation as he rises to the challenge of growing cotton and grain sorghum in the resource-limited High Plains.

Tune in to our interview with Barry and hear about the ‘Dust Bowl’ moment that transformed his approach to farming.

  1. Sonny BealSonny Beal, lobsterman

The importance of sustainability was ingrained in lobsterman Sonny Beal from an early age by his father. Conservation is part of his heritage, he says, and dates back more than 100 years when Maine lobstermen started measuring their catch and only keeping the mature lobsters. Later this expanded to “notching” egg-bearing females to identify them as breeders even if they aren’t carrying eggs.

Read more about what sustainability means to Sonny and the Maine fishing community.

  1. Rick Clark, corn and soybean farmer

“My goal is to build a symbiotic relationship with Mother Nature,” says award-winning corn and soybean farmer Rick Clark. Some of the sustainable practices he uses to achieve that are cover crops, no-till farming and what he refers to as “farming green”. This involves planting the farm’s cash crop into a living, growing green cover crop, and only terminating the cover crop after he has finished planting. He says this maximizes the benefits while delivering even more nutrients.

Read how the farming practices Rick uses benefit productivity, profitability and the planet.

  1. women in agricultureFrom almond grower Christine Gemperle to rice farmer Jennifer James

To complete our line-up, we focus on not just one but eight women farmers who share a commitment to sustainability, whether conserving natural resources or protecting the soil. They range from almond grower Christine Gemperle, whose approach to water conservation is exemplary, to rice farmer Jennifer James who takes pride in using practices to conserve the natural resources that have sustained her family’s livelihood for over 100 years.

Read more about America’s outstanding women farmers.

 

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