Farming has always been a risky business. Sustainable agriculture is essentially managing that risk successfully. The recent industrialization of agriculture has addressed many production risks and lead to unprecedented production success. However, there are new risks and uncertainty adding another layer to the burden that farmers bear in our state. While the demand for farm products continue to increase dramatically, this demand cannot be met in an environment of increasing risk and decreasing numbers of working farms.
Risk has had a significant effect of the farms of New Jersey. In the last 25 years we have lost 30% of our prime farmland. If this trend continues to the point that there are no active, working farms in our state, will it matter? Intuitively we know the answer is yes. In fact, research has shown that preserving our local farms is critical for food security, energy independence, and healthy communities.
No one wants New Jersey farms to disappear. The issues involved in sustaining farms in New Jersey are complex and often clouded with emotional and political overtones. Solutions for sustainable production in our state will be found by weaving together successful strategies from traditional farming, green revolution farming, and methods yet to be developed.
Farming remains a noble profession. The ability of farmers to think for themselves, to shape their own destinies will be the key to sustaining agricultural profitability and therefore, sustainability. We at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station are here to serve the farmers of our state by providing up-to-date, scientifically proven methods that yield long-term profits, ensure stewardship of the environment, and create high quality of life for our farmers and the communities surrounding them.