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Statement of Support: National Research Council report, Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century

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Joanne Krell

Attributed to Sterling K. Speirn, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is pleased to support the release of the National Research Council’s new report, Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century. The Foundation’s funding for this report continues a decades-long history of support for innovative food systems work in the United States.

Agriculture has reached a pivotal stage for simultaneously meeting society’s demands for products and improving sustainability. This report offers a comprehensive review of farming practices that could advance the environmental, social and economic sustainability of agriculture, and explores the potential results of adopting those practices. Here, agricultural sustainability has four goals:

  • Satisfying human food, feed, fiber needs and contributing to biofuels;
  • Enhancing environmental quality and resources;
  • Sustaining agriculture’s economic viability; and
  • Enhancing the quality of life for farmers, farm workers and society.

While the authors urge more research on a variety of practices, they cite numerous efforts that contribute to sustainability, including diversifying crops, increasing compost usage, diversifying farm businesses and supporting farm to school programs. The report also calls for substantial research into innovative practices that integrate the production, environmental, economic and social dimensions of sustainability.

We welcome the study’s call to jointly pursue incremental approaches – which expand ongoing efforts to improve sustainability by farms of all sizes and types – and a transformative approach that considers complex interdependencies between biophysical and socioeconomic aspects of farming in the face of many challenges, including energy and natural resource depletion.

Many of the report’s findings affirm work that the Kellogg Foundation has been investing in for years. We believe that good food is a critical component of improving children’s health. For nearly 80 years, the foundation has used its voice to advocate for equitable access to healthy food. This commitment comes directly from our founder, Will Keith Kellogg, who as early as 1930, supported farmer’s markets and school lunch programs to improve children’s access to nutrition.

Today, our Food & Community Program continues to push for food system reform with a variety of grantees through the United States. The National Farm to School Network has helped nearly 9,000 school districts bring local produce into their cafeterias. In Arizona, the Tohono O’odham Food & Fitness Collaboration is reinvigorating traditional native agriculture to promote healthier living in the Tohono O’odham Nation. Neighborhoods in Boston and Seattle are launching campaigns to support corner stores selling fresh produce.

We invite you to download the full Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century report.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is proud to underwrite this important work, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Sustainable agriculture is key to healthy development in the United States and around the world. With continued research and implementation, we can look toward a time when all agriculture supports our health, our environment, our economy and our communities.

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