Closing the Knowledge Gap: How the USDA could tap the potential of biologically diversified farming systems


Albie Miles, Liz Carlisle


agricultural policy, agricultural research, agroecology, diversified farming systems, land grant university system, sustainability, U.S. Department of Agriculture


Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development

Year Published:


Policy Summary

This paper argues for the redirection of some of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) funding to more research on biologicially diversified farming systems. Currently, less than 2% of the USDA’s budget funds diversified farming projects, which has created a “knowledge gap” to exist in terms of the potential positive impact these farming systems could have on producing enough food to feed the world while also protecting our environment. The authors argue that the current “maximal production” methods used in industrial agriculture extract more resources (economic, social, and environmental) than are provided and thus those practices are not “net neutral”. The authors give three major areas of recommendations the USDA should adapt in their 21st Century model for research, education, and extension.

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