Yes, We Can Feed and Sustain the Planet at the Same Time!

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4/8/2024

Sustainability AdvocacyBy Kip Eideberg, AEM Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Relations — 

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in Agri-Pulse. It is being republished here with their permission.

As conservationist Aldo Leopold observed, the oldest task in human history is to live on a piece of land without spoiling it. The world’s population will grow to nearly 10 billion people by 2050. This means a 50% increase in global demand for food, which requires a tremendous increase in agricultural production across the globe. We need to grow the food, fiber, and fuel we depend on while sustaining our land and protecting our climate.

Farmers who use precision agriculture technologies use less to grow more, reducing both their cost and environmental impact. According to a 2021 study, the increased adoption of satellite-assisted steering technology and tools that allow farmers to remotely monitor the performance of fleets of farm equipment could save the fossil fuel equivalent of 193,000 cars every year. Precision irrigation and the use of soil moisture sensors could save enough water to fill 750,000 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s conservation programs have a long history of helping farmers implement practices that clean the air we breathe, conserve the water we drink, prevent soil erosion, and create and protect wildlife habitat. There are programs tailored to fit farm operations of all kinds, but we lack a program that would incentivize the adoption of precision agriculture technologies.

The next farm bill is an opportunity for Congress to help farmers access the tools they need to monitor, manage, and maximize their operations while advancing climate-smart agriculture practices and protecting our environment. Because if we are serious about promoting climate-smart farming, then we need to make sure that USDA’s conservation-related programs help expand access to precision agriculture technologies.

Fortunately, there is bipartisan legislation that would ensure programs at USDA provide farmers with multiple and flexible financing options to invest in precision agriculture technologies. The Precision Agriculture Loan (PAL) ACT and the Producing Responsible Energy and Conservation Incentives and Solutions for the Environment (PRECISE) Act would significantly improve farmers’ ability to leverage technologies that enhance sustainability through more efficient use of land, water, fuel, and pesticides.

Our society is increasingly looking to technology to help solve the ecological challenges of our time. Innovations in solar, wind, hydro, biomass, and geothermal are accelerating a future of reduced reliance on carbon fuels and their environmental impact. Thanks to advancements in precision agriculture technology, farmers are well-equipped to face this challenge. Smart legislation will support the revolution that is already happening. America’s farmers and equipment manufacturers are well on their way to doubling food production by 2050 and ending hunger worldwide—all while drastically reducing our impact on our land and our environment.

As Democrats and Republicans continue to spar over competing farm bill priorities – significantly boosting agriculture safety net and risk management tools versus bolstering nutrition programs for low-income families – equipment manufacturers urge them to come together to provide farmers with the tools they need to produce more crops while protecting our environment.

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Advocacy & Legislation, AEM Blog, Sustainability

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