The ability to feed a world that could grow to 8 billion by 2030 is a serious task that will require a serious stewardship ethic among all of us, according to the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), sponsor of the 2003 Soil and Water Stewardship Week observance, set for April 27-May 4.

Food for the future will come from those people and nations fortunate enough to have the soil and water for agricultural production, the ability to provide stewardship for the land, and the freedom to pursue their agriculture in peace.

“Despite our struggles over technical and ethical questions involved in increasing food production, the world's food still depends on an adequate supply of good farmland,” said NACD President Gary Mast, a dairy farmer from Millersburg, Ohio.

“Our conservation districts are in the business of providing conservation technical assistance to farmers and ranchers on private working lands who want to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and make a better home for wildlife.”

The special observance theme, “Food for the Future,” addresses the most basic issue any society faces and one of the most complex. In today's world and for tomorrow's needs, an ample supply of food requires:

  • Productive soils and ample water supplies maintained in a clean and healthy condition by people who practice effective resource stewardship.

  • A wide and diverse variety of food crops with traditional crop strains protected so that their characteristics can be used in the future if needed.

  • An economic and social system that provides peace and security for people who produce food and fiber on the lands where they live.

  • A transportation and distribution network that moves food rapidly and safely from the fields where it is produced to the consumers who need it.

  • A global network of support that allows people to quickly and effectively help those in hunger or famine.

“While providing food for the future may seem out of our grasp, each of us can do something around our own place to conserve natural resources,” said Mast.

To learn more about how you can help, contact the local soil and water conservation district in your county.

NACD is the national voice of America's 3000 local conservation districts that work with landowners, organizations, business, and government to protect America's soil, water, forest, and wildlife resources.