Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sustainable Ag Gurus Present 50 Year Farm Bill to the White House

Heros of the Sustainable Agriculture movement, Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry and Fred Kirschenmann, recently traveled to Washington to propose a 50 year Farm Bill which would transform American farming. The three met with Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture, and several members of the Kansas congressional delegation to discuss their plan, which details the importance of perennial crops to reduce soil erosion, increase drought resistance and reduce energy use. The plan calls for $50 million a year to fund research that would help make possible, the transition from annual to perennial crops. The presentation included a giant photographic banner showing the immense, nearly 20 feet long root systems of perennials grasses.

The group emphasized that a system that values not only yields but local ecosystems, healthy food and rural communities, was the way to revolutionize American agriculture. Fred Kirschenmann, a fellow at the Leopold Center, expressed concern in a universal solution to hunger that involves industrial agriculture and genetically modified crops and stressed the importance of appropriate technologies.

Wes Jackson described the reception as positive.

"They were all impressed by the roots," he said. "I just handed them the farm bill. I didn't get what you would call a solid commitment." During their stay, the team toured the White House and its gardens and Jackson left two sacks of The Land Institute's perennial Kernza wheat flour with the White House chef.

Members of Rural Action and the community were fortunate to have the founder of The Land Institute and acclaimed author Wes Jackson present on his work with perennial grains at this year’s Annual Meeting. He had his impressive photos of perennial root systems on display for us as well as a detailed presentation of his work in Salinas, Kansas. More information about the Land Institute’s work can be found at their website:

Click here to read a full copy of the 50 Year Farm Bill presented by the trio.

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