Dancing Rabbit recently took 19 acres of our land out of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a government program that pays us to maintain potential agricultural land as wildlife habitat. Though this program has helped us pay the mortgage on our land, most of the land we could potentially use for ag projects has been under CRP contract and has not been available for use by members without the payment of a significant penalty. The recent opening up of land has spurred interest in new agricultural projects and has begun a community process of forming new agricultural policies around how we use the land. We’d like to use our agricultural land to produce more of our own food and income for our members, but we also want to be sure we are practicing a kind of agriculture that will be sustainable over the long term. Most agriculture done in this country is based on the use of fossil fuel, and because of its destructive nature will not be sustainable for thousands of years like the agriculture of our ancestors. To help with forming our policies, members were asked to write up their visions for the future of agriculture at DR. I plan to compile some excerpts from what people wrote soon and post them here on the blog.
In the meantime, I offer an essay I recently wrote for my blog about the use of animals in sustainable agriculture. Although modern methods of animal agriculture are neither sustainable nor humane, including livestock in a sustainable agriculture system has great potential for reducing our dependence on fossil fuel, restoring fertility to farmland, and making food production more sustainable. This article is posted on my blog and linked here because it is my opinion and not necessarily one shared by everyone at DR. I do think many of the issues discussed in the essay are relevant to creating a model for sustainable agriculture here.