Methods to increase environmentally responsible agriculture in Dane County are finally going before city committees after spending a year in development.
Margaret Krome, co-chair of the Sustainable Agriculture Subcommittee, which brought recommendations before the County Board last week, said the committee used a uniform definition in order to define sustainable agriculture.
“Sustainable agriculture is involved with practices that are environmentally sound, profitable and socially responsible,” Krome said.
Krome said four work groups were created within the Sustainable Agriculture Subcommittee. These workgroups focused on beginning farmers, profitability, farmland preservation and urban agriculture and food security.
“The goal of the beginning farmers subcommittee is to discuss practices that will help beginning farmers get started and be prosperous,” Krome said.
Due to the aging farm population, Krome said it is imperative that young farmers looking to make a living in the agriculture business be as educated as possible so they can be successful in their endeavors.
The focus of the profitability subcommittee is to address additional ways that farmers can be successful and make a profit.
“There are two areas to look at in regards to profitability, which are value-added agriculture and new market development,” Krome said.
The farmland preservation subcommittee addressed ways to protect productive farmland with conservation practices.
The last subcommittee, urban agriculture and food security, took a look at farming opportunities in Madison regarding strategies for urban agriculture, such as community gardens and agriculture incubator farms.
“The goal of the subcommittee is to make sure healthy, nutritious food is available to people of all means around the county,” Krome said.
Jonathan Barry, former Dane County executive and subcommittee member, said the subcommittee will provide new agriculture opportunities to Dane County.
“The purpose of the committee is to bring about recommendations toward adopting policies that would further the entry of future farmers into agriculture,” Barry said.
Barry said he believes the recommendations created by the subcommittee will have a positive effect on both the farmers as well as residents of Dane County.
He added they bring people together that have a desire to farm and then gives them the information they need to sustain themselves.
Supervisor Kyle Richmond, District 27, said the subcommittee was created in April 2009 with the hope of improving the county’s economy, providing more and better resources for farmers, and addressing concerns identified from citizen input.
“One of the priorities of the committee was to also make sure everyone in Dane County has access to healthy, nutritious food,” Richmond said.
Other concerns addressed by the subcommittee included the creation of better locally-grown market opportunities, the creation of an agricultural incubator farm and the provision of a portion of the revolving loan fund in the county to beginning farmers, Richmond said.
The recommendations from the subcommittee were presented to the County Board last Thursday, which referred the recommendations to other committees to be discussed and approved before coming before the board at a later date.