The percentage of our North American population that works every day to provide the rest with one of our most basic needs to sustain life – food.
Our global food system is the single most powerful force unleashed on the planet today, yet a rapidly swelling population means we have to find ways to double our food production. Our footprint is large as the food system continues its significant and complex effects on our environment, our economy, and our rural social fabric.
So Where Do We Begin?
Farmer’s are an easy target as they grow the food. Increasingly society is demanding sustainable agricultural practices yet have little understanding of the impact they themselves have on the food system. Farming practices develop to meet the demands of the system. Consumer’s expectations for cheap food, huge variety, desire for convenience and not having to grow their own food has been the number one driver in the creation of this food system impacting our world.
Sustainable agriculture means the efficient production of safe, high quality products in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic conditions of farmers, farm workers and local communities and safeguards the health and welfare of all farmed species. There are some challenges as we move to a sustainable food system.
The economic realities of farming make it extremely difficult to attract young farmers as we lose them to higher paying careers. It would seem that an aging farmer population provides a window of opportunity for young farmers however, each generation is in a state of continual refinancing for the same property to ensure the outgoing generation has enough money to retire. The cost of the land and the equipment is so astronomical that even those who want to farm don’t have the means to. Input costs have soared, while profits have not, forcing many farmers to take second jobs so they can feed their own families. On average, farmers today receive, on average, 16 cents of every food dollar, and that’s BEFORE expenses. In other words, a farmer’s work has become more humanitarian in nature as making a living solely from farming becomes more and more difficult.
Now we are asking farmers to fix what’s wrong and save our planet and resources by employing sustainable practices that can make a difference. The simple fact of the matter is that we cannot put all of the burden and expense on the shoulders of the 2%, who are already being crushed by the weight and demands of the whole as they are barely staying afloat. One misstep, one wrong choice or the implementation of one ineffective practice can mean disaster and the risk of collapsing their entire operation, essentially gambling their family’s future and home. We cannot ask so much without offering to assist and support those who hold the land in their hands to become economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.
What Can We Do To Help?
FarmOn has committed to bringing context to the story by bringing together the best and the brightest to share knowledge, generate new thinking and inspire bold solutions. We owe it to ourselves, our farmers and our planet to check in and become an active part of the solution for a food system we all had a hand in creating. We can do better. Because we must do better.
You too can support our mission.