Just like the general public, many lawmakers themselves are a couple of generations removed from the farm. But better understanding about how modern agriculture intersects with the lives of their constituents would give these lawmakers a leg up when agricultural policy — like the Farm Bill — comes before them.
Bayer has a program called ForwardFarming, an effort to foster dialogue and help people understand how food can be grown in harmony with the environment. The first-ever North American farm in this program is based just two hours outside of Washington, D.C., and is a clear opportunity for those in the government to truly get their hands dirty.
This newest ForwardFarming location is Harboview Farms, a sustainably driven operation run by fourth-generation Maryland farmer Trey Hill. He measures the success of his operation not just by how many bushels of corn, soybeans, and wheat his farm produces, but by how effectively it helps the waters of the Chesapeake Bay that surround its fields. He looks at the number of earthworms that flourish in his soil year-round and at the organic matter that helps improve water filtration and reduce erosion.
This is what sustainable agriculture looks like.
“Everything we do at Harborview Farms has to pass this test,” said Hill, 42. “I have to be able to explain it to my young children, simply and with integrity. That includes the inputs we use, how and why we use them, our treatment of wildlife and the Bay, and the amount of energy we use doing it all. If I can’t do that, then it’s a signal I have to re-think our practices.”
Hill and his team will welcome guests Thursday to his operation, where they will learn about Harborview’s innovative management practices, including precision, GPS-guided technology that manages inputs; extensive cover cropping that nourishes the soil and protects nearby waterways; solar panels that power much of the operation; integrated pest management that protects crops sustainably; wildlife habitats that protect the wildlife that call the area home, and much more.
Harborview joins Bayer’s global ForwardFarming network, an elite group of 12 innovative, independent farms representative of their unique environments across Europe, Latin America and now, North America. Over time, Bayer will add more operations to the ForwardFarming program in additional regions across the United States and the world to expand the knowledge platform further.