John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-551-7219 (cell)
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The goal of achieving a sustainable planet, one that will accommodate the basic needs of its present inhabitants while preserving the resources that will enable future generations to flourish, has gained increasing acceptance. Although certainly not mainstream at this point, sustainable agriculture is now being addressed by the agricultural community in significant ways.

"Sustainable agriculture" was addressed by Congress in the 1990 "Farm Bill" [Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (FACTA), Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, Section 1603 (Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1990) NAL Call # KF1692.A31 1990], which in part states, "the term sustainable agriculture 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 agricultural economy depends
  • make the most efficient use of non-renewable 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."

Sustainable agriculture has three central tenents - health of the environment, profitability and social and economic equity.  These ideas are increasingly shared by farmers and consumers, and the vision of sustainability is based on the shared contributions of diverse groups of people.

In its shortest form, sustainability is the principle that we must meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.Stewardship of resources, both natural and human, are of central importance.

An increasing number of people are coming to realize that current agricultural practices, particularly in the United States, are simply not sustainable.  Further, serious debate has arisen about the sustainablity of the very culture of acquisition and consumption evident in most "developed" nations and now being emulated in emerging nations such as China.

Alpacas are uniquely positioned as a livestock species to further the goals of the sustainable agriculture movement. Alpacas are easy on the environment. Positive traits include

  • A desirable end product commanding relatively high prices
  • Communal dung piles facilitate manure management
  • Padded feet minimize damage to the land
  • Hardy constitution minimizes the need for chemical or medical management
  • Efficient digestive systems reduce pressure on pastures and allow a wide range of suitable forage types.
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"He wore a big cluster diamond pin, a sort of hen-and-chickens of his own, secured by a minute guard-chain on a ruffled shirt-front of snowiest linen, where clung dry crumbs of the "fine-cut" which puffed the lower side pockets of his gray alpaca sack coat. His gold-headed cane was almost a bludgeon..."

- George Cabel
Gideons Band, A Tale of the Mississippi
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