What does it mean to be an environmentalist? Just ask farmers – “The True Environmentalists” – who protect our environment year round through their everyday activities. And Earth Day, April 22, the day set aside to create awareness of and appreciation for the Earth's environment is a perfect time to recognize the stewards of our natural resources.
Over the past two decades, U.S. farmers have become dramatically more efficient at what they do. Farmers have reduced their nutrient and chemical inputs while also adopting progressive tillage practices that reduce runoff and erosion.
“One of the clearest measures of the sustainability of an industry is that industry’s ability to increase efficiency, while decreasing environmental impacts,” said Lisa Richardson, executive director of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council. “Today it takes about 40 percent less land and energy to produce a bushel of corn than it did 20 years ago. Earth Day is the perfect moment to recognize farmers for improving their environment and for being environmental stewards 365 days of the year.”
To salute farmers’ efforts in improving our environment, the SDCUC launched television ads during the Earth Day month of April to highlight the role farmers play in protecting soil, water, wildlife and habitat while also providing ample food, feed and fuel. Farmers take great personal care and consideration to ensure that the land they farm remains productive for generations to come. Sustainability is important to them because this is the same land they were raised on, and the land where they will raise their family and generations to come.
In addition to the television presence, a “True Environmentalist” video was produced in conjunction with the campaign, highlighting the many sustainable activities farmers do every day. The video, available at www.sdcorn.org features five South Dakota farmers telling their story and what caring for the land means to them.
Every day, corn farmers balance the need to follow the rules and feed the world. The result is the evolution of the corn industry and, in particular, South Dakota corn farmers and their unprecedented progress in maintaining a commitment to the land.
More and more farmers are using less and growing more on the same acres of land year after year. Farmers are utilizing fewer pesticides, decreasing water usage, minimizing fuel consumption, reducing their fertilizer applications and achieving great soil sustainability.
“As we congratulate those who have made tremendous contributions to our environment this Earth Day, let’s not forget to include farmers. Farmers have a direct daily interface with the earth. They are literally getting their hands dirty caring for livestock, tending the soil and growing crops,” said Richardson. “Our ability to feed and fuel a world population that will double in the next 20 to 40 years is in the hands of dedicated farmers, who truly care about conserving our natural resources.”