United States: Examples of Agro-environmental Practices for Economic and Environmental Sustainability
by Marie-Cécile Hénard-Damave, saf agr’iDées
In the United States, as in other countries, farmers are implementing agro-environmental practices depending on the sensitivity of their lands and economic imperatives. These measures are applied on a voluntary and individual basis by farmers in the Mississippi River Basin – one of the U.S. main corn and soy producing area, whereas, by contrast, they are mandatory in the Chesapeake Bay, near the East Coast – a region very much affected by discharges resulting from agricultural, industrial and urban activities.
In some cases, agro-environmental actions have been made mandatory by the federal government for environmental protection purposes, but most often economic considerations are the origin of voluntary approaches: for instance the soy industry has developed its own sustainability system, creating a sustainability assurance protocol for production practices, under the supervision of the services of the Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is in response to requests for guarantees of sustainability coming from their overseas customers particularly those in livestock and poultry production.
Other approaches to the certification of sustainable agriculture production practices are being implemented in highly environmentally-sensitive countries across the globe. More and more U.S. farmers are participating in voluntary approaches aiming to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of their production. But above all, they see this as a way to ensure the future of their own farms, mainly family farms inherited from previous generations and which they want to leave to future generations in the best possible condition.
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