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Journal Article: Investing in the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture

There are many negative impacts of ecological agriculture including significant greenhouse gas emissions, soil degradation, loss of biodiversity, widespread pollution by pesticides and fertilizers, human health risks, and more.

According to a journal article on ScienceDirect, farming systems maintained using ecological principles can meet the food needs of society while dealing with these pressing environmental issues. The promise of these systems increases the need to scale this area of research. Agroecology promotes farming practices that fight climate change, work with wildlife, and give power to farmers. However, the amount of federal funding for agroecology and agroecological systems remains unclear.

The article addressed this gap in knowledge by looking into projects starting from 2014 from the USDA Current Research Information System (CRIS) database. They identified key project reports with major components emphasizing sustainable agriculture. They were grouped into four levels according to their focus on improving system efficiency to lower the use of inputs, substituting more sustainable practices into agriculture, restructuring systems based on ecological principles, or reestablishing connections between producers and consumers to support a socio-ecological transformation of the food system. They discovered 824 projects that accounted for $294 million dollars which is just over 10% of the entire 2014 USDA Research, Extension, and Economics (REE) budget. The primary focus of these projects was found to be unrelated to sustainable agriculture at any level, but the majority of projects had at least one relevant component.

Read the full journal article by Marcia S. DeLonge, Albie Miles and Liz Carlisle on “Investing in the transition to sustainable agriculture.”