Sustainable agriculture is farming in such a way to protect the environment, aid and expand natural resources and to make the best use of nonrenewable resources. On this page, learn the legal definition of sustainable agriculture, find organizations to help with sustainable farming, discover funding resources, and access articles from our collection on the subject.
The term ''sustainable agriculture'' (U.S. Code Title 7, Section 3103) means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will over the long-term:
- Satisfy human food and fiber needs.
- Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agriculture economy depends.
- Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls.
- Sustain the economic viability of farm operations.
- Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.
Organizations and Information Providers
AgMRC: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center [agmrc.org]
National resource for producers interested in value-added agriculture.
ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture [ncat.org]
Provides technical information and assistance to sustainable agriculture practitioners and educators. Maintains a sustainable agriculture publication library [ncat.org]; and a Internship Hub [ncat.org].
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education [sare.org]
Nationwide research and education grants program. Provides information and outreach. Publishes What is Sustainable Agriculture? [sare.org] with snapshots of producers who apply sustainable principles on their farms and ranches. Compiles Sustainable Agriculture Resources and Programs for K-12 [pdf, 40 pages].
What is Sustainable Agriculture? [ucdavis.edu]
Includes information on: The Philosophy and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture.
Access to Research Articles
Search the NAL Collection
Agricultural Funding Resources for Sustainable Agriculture
- Growing Opportunity: A Guide to USDA Sustainable Farming Programs [sustainableagriculture.net
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). 2022.
Provides an overview of key Farm Bill programs offered by USDA that can help sustainable agriculture farmers and ranchers. Updates 2017 USDA/NSAC Guide.
- Sustainable Agriculture Programs [usda.gov].
USDA. National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
- How does USDA support Organic Farms and Businesses? [usda.gov]
- Grass Roots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs [sustainableagriculture.net].
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).
Provides an in-depth look at federal programs and policies important to sustainable agriculture, and details how they can be accessed by farmers, ranchers, and grassroots organizations nationwide.
- Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities [sare.org].
A Guide to Federal Programs for Sustainable Agriculture, Forestry, Entrepreneurship, Conservation, Food Systems and Community Development.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education.
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Grants [sare.org].
SARE grants are available to farmers and ranchers, researchers, Extension agents and other educators, and graduate students. Search funded USDA SARE projects in the SARE National Projects Database [sare.org].
Pioneers in Sustainable Agriculture
Oral history interviews with people who have provided leadership and inspiration in the field of alternative or sustainable agriculture.
Sustainable agricultural practices are intended to maintain and improve soil fertility.
The National Agricultural Law Center identifies legal resources and links to information on sustainable agriculture.