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Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Michael Duffy Associate Director Lancaster, PA February 13, 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Michael Duffy Associate Director Lancaster, PA February 13, 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture Michael Duffy Associate Director Lancaster, PA February 13, 2004

2 Outline of Presentation Leopold Center Sustainable agriculture Context of the Center’s work Changes in land use and the disappearing middle Center’s challenges and approaches Questions

3 What is the Leopold Center? The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture was established by the Iowa legislature as part of the Iowa Groundwater Protection Act (GWPA) of Named for Aldo Leopold, an Iowa-born conservationist, ecologist, and educator. Mission statement (2003): The Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture explores and cultivates alternatives that secure healthier people and landscapes in Iowa and the nation.

4 How is the Leopold Center funded? Fees from the sale of nitrogen fertilizer and pesticides (35 percent of the Agricultural Management Account established by the GWPA); roughly $1.2 million per year State appropriations earmarked for research and administered through ISU; about $465,000 per year

5 Guiding Philosophies “… a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members and also respect for the community as such.” “A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self- renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.”

6 Sustainable Agriculture: What Does it Mean “The appropriate use of crop and livestock systems and agricultural inputs supporting those activities which maintain economic and social viability while preserving the high productivity and quality of Iowa’s land.” “ … not a concretely defined set of management strategies and technology, but an approach which targets the enhancement of natural processes…”

7 Sustainable Agriculture: There are many definitions but the common theme in all of them is that there is no set prescription and that there is a concern with three major aspects of agriculture; 1) Profitability 2) Rural communities 3) Environmental impact

8 Context of the Leopold Center’s Work Some immediate and long-range challenges facing agriculture Global Iowa Conflicting policies

9 Global challenges facing agriculture Population growth Persistent poverty Energy needs Food security and safety Environmental degradation Climate change Unprecedented explosion of infectious diseases

10 Iowa’s Immediate Challenge Iowa Farm Output, Total Expenses, and Net Farm Income

11 Iowa Direct Government Payments

12 Government Payments as a Percent of Net Farm Income

13 Changes in Land Use and the Disappearing Middle Production Processing Retail

14 Total Percent Change of Land in Farms,

15 Percent of US Farms by Sales Category, 2002

16 Percent Change in US Farms by Sales Category, 1997 to 2002

17 Percent of Iowa Farms by Sales Class, 2002

18 Percent Change in Iowa Farms by Sales Category, 1997 to 2002

19 Number of Pork Slaughter Plants

20 Percent Hogs Slaughtered by Plant Size

21 Leopold Center Approaches Supporting identification and analysis of alternatives in three broad areas: 1) Marketing 2) Ecology 3) Policy We do not promote a particular piece of legislation. We will, however, voice support for legislation we feel helps move agriculture towards a more sustainable situation. The Conservation Security Program is an example.

22 Leopold Center Approaches Promoting work that supports the views of our namesake Work for agriculture in the middle All three of the major initiatives for the Center are involved with land use and land use planning Providing information to help with the debate

23 The Changing Structure of Agriculture- Conclusions Agriculture has changed and will continue to change Increased awareness of environmental and other problems associated with current farming systems are leading to a rethinking of the current approach Changing consumer preferences and lifestyles offer new options and alternatives for farming Increased awareness of our dependence on imported oil is opening new opportunities for agriculture to lead the way in a biobased industrial society We can not go backwards. We have to go forward recognizing that things will continually change but that we do have some control over the direction of the change

24 Strategies Individual, Local, State, National, World Agriculture Policy Options 1) Do nothing different; continue to follow the same basic course 2) Decide that cheap, bulk, commodities are the primary goal for farming and move as quickly as possible toward production methods and units designed for such production; eliminate programs and expenditures for other goals and redirect the funds toward helping people exit agriculture as quickly as possible 3) Increase the expectations for farming to include energy, medicines, industrial products and service; base support on other aspects besides commodity production

25 Potential Farm Strategies The basic approach should be to look for ways to decrease costs, increase the value of output, and increase the value retained on the farm. Collective Bargaining Selling higher up the food chain Cooperative pools Differentiated products New market relationships Creative thinking-switching thinking from a family-farm business to a farm-family business

26 Future? Iowa Legislature has shown they will cut funding so we are looking for more permanent funding sources Energy will be major area Multi function agriculture will be important for Iowa and US New partnerships Always uncertain

27 Web address:


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