The 50-Year Farm Bill – Protecting Our Food Supply While Conserving Biodiversity
The 50-Year Farm Bill is an ambitious yet doable solution to the current decline in soil and water quality in regards to our food supply. This proposed bill was created in June 2009 by The Land Institute based in Salina, Kansas along with many partner organizations.
The Land Institute, founded in 1976 by Wes Jackson, is determined to find stable perennial crops that can adequately feed our growing population without destroying the land.
When people, land, and community are as one, all three members prosper; when they relate not as members but as competing interests, all three are exploited. By consulting Nature as the source and measure of that membership, The Land Institute seeks to develop an agriculture that will save soil from being lost or poisoned, while promoting a community life at once prosperous and enduring.The Land Institute’s Mission Statement
In simple terms, The Land Institute promotes switching annual crops to perennial crops. They are working in two main ways to do this: domesticate wild perennials and the perennialization of current annual crops. Currently, annual crops makeup for around 80% of agriculture with 20% being perennials. The goal is to flip this ratio.
Some of the wild perennials The Land Institute is working on include:
- Perennial oilseeds, specifically the native Silphium integrifolium – to replace annual sunflower and soybeans
- Perennial legumes – to maintain or increase soil fertility
- Kernza – cousin to annual wheat that is being developed for commercial production to become a perennial wheat
Beyond these, The Land Institute is working with the Missouri Botanical Garden and Saint Louis University to create The Global Inventory Project and determine what wild perennials are best suited to be domesticated and used in diverse, mixed crop production.
Green Lands Blue Waters is an Upper Midwest coalition advocating the need to perennialize the landscape of the Mississippi Basin out of concern for soil erosion and the leaching of nitrogen, which is responsible for one of the largest dead zones of the world.