Agriculture – Five areas that demand urgent attention!

Agricultural document presented, discussed

Created on Monday, 27 March 2017 09:09

Written by The Register

Russell — Executives from Catholic Rural Life were in the Salina Diocese Feb. 25 to present “The Vocation of the Agricultural Leader” document and glean feedback from local farmers and ranchers.

Jim Ennis, Executive Director of CRL, presented the document to an audience of 55 at St. Mary Queen of Angels Parish in Russell.

Previously, Ennis gave similar workshops to farm organizations such as the Farmers Union in various locations. The workshop in Russell was the first to be given at a diocese.

The document, which was presented, is a faith-based resource for leaders in food and agriculture. The goal is to integrate faith, food, and the environment for leaders in agriculture. It was inspired by a document “Vocation of the Business Leader,” which was published in 2012. Ennis, the Executive Director for Catholic Rural Life and also President of the International Catholic Rural Association (ICRA), said a similar document for agriculture was needed. He was told to compile such a document.

Beginning with a national symposium on Faith, Food and the Environment, in November 2014, and followed by an international gathering in Milan, Italy in June 2015, various focus groups and other stakeholders were encouraged to contribute their perspectives to the document. Pope Francis presented his encyclical “Laudato Sí, on Care for Our Common Home” in 2015. This also influenced the document “Vocation of the Agricultural Leader.”

The document summarizes five areas that demand urgent attention:

Globalization of Industrialized Agriculture — the world market and expanded industrialized methods forces many local family and small-scale farmers off their land and into poverty. This is occurring both in developing countries and here in the U.S.

Financialization — agriculture is increasingly and exclusively thought of in terms of profit only, which may result in many short-sighted practices which have harmful results.

Agricultural Knowledge and Technology — new technology has created solutions to many perplexing problems, but often the implementation threatens ecological sustainability. Additionally, large agribusinesses may be driving the research at the expense of smaller operations.

Technocracy — an overemphasis on examination of problems only through technical perspectives which often prevents consideration of larger human concerns.

Ecological Impacts and Balances — excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has often resulted in degradation of the natural environment. This has not only harmed the poor and marginalized members of society, but it also threatens long-term ecological sustainability.

There are three specific purposes for the Vocation of the Agricultural Leader:

1. Serve as a resource for key principles for agriculture leadership.

2. Affirm and honor the significant role of farmers, ranchers, and food leaders in providing food for the world.

3. Help inform ethical management decisions for current and future leaders in agriculture sectors.

Following the presentation of the document, small groups gathered for discussion. The group reconvened and answered any questions raised by the groups.