Regarding the world of agriculture in Minnesota, the Sustainable Farming Association considers its community to be those farmers, aspiring farmers, agriculture supporters and consumers throughout Minnesota who contribute in diverse ways to agriculture of all types, local food, and rural revitalization. Since 2009, SFA has been expanding our community, broadening our network and serving our region by empowering farmers and farm supporters to work together to address issues in our community and to advance a healthy sustainable food system for everyone. As SFA grows, and we seek to continue to strengthen the organization to best serve our community, there is a need to re-assess our structure and best practices.
The agriculture community, including farms, farmers and support businesses continues to consolidate as it has for the past 50 years. A new problem is on the horizon, however. As Baby Boomer farmers exit agriculture, many do not have a successor in mind either from within the family or outside of the family. This means that when a farmer retires, the farm assets, including land, buildings, equipment and breeding stock, are generally sold to the highest bidder and the production is absorbed by a neighboring farm. When this happens, rural communities lose significant economic, social and civic infrastructure. The economic well-being of a community is threatened.
My belief is that farmers should be the ones leading on this important issue. The consolidation of agriculture has been in response to external factors imposed upon farmers. Solutions to this issue should be developed from within the farming community. Let’s work together to sustain a diverse, robust agriculture and local economy where individual farms and families matter, and where the quality of food produced and the quality of the environment left behind take precedent over merely the quantity and the relative low cost of the food produced.
SFA has organized its community around the need for educational information sharing and networking among farmers, and the ability for farmer-innovators to lead in their communities in problem solving. You can be a part of this community in several ways. By reading and learning about sustainable agriculture, through SFA Connect for example, you are at the first level of involvement. Next, if you haven’t already, become a sustaining member of SFA. Third, attend the SFA Annual Conference and the Midwest Soil Health Summit, where you’ll really become a part of the community. You’ll meet other like-minded people, learn more about important issues facing agriculture today, and offer your solutions for agriculture through our networking activities.
Thanks for your continued interest in SFA, and more importantly for desiring to make the world’s food better.