For I Was Hungry & You Gave Me Food: A Catholic Agenda for Action - Pursuing a More Just Agricultural System - Part 5

Stewardship of Creation

Protecting God’s creation must be a central goal of agricultural policies. We support policies that promote soil conservation, improve water quality, protect wildlife, and maintain biodiversity. Government resources should be targeted to farms and ranches that practice environmentally sound agriculture. We urge farmers to minimize their use of pesticides and other chemicals and, where they are used, to take strong measures to protect themselves, agricultural workers, and their families from exposure. Farmworkers who may be exposed to these hazards need greater access to information to prevent and treat exposure. Government policies and regulations should seek to reduce the use of toxic pesticides and promote safer alternatives. When farmworkers or their families are injured or become ill due to exposure, adequate health care and benefits should be made available.

Catholic teaching about the stewardship of creation leads us to question certain farming practices, such as the operation of massive confined animal feeding operations. We believe that these operations should be carefully regulated and monitored so that environmental risks are minimized and animals are treated as creatures of God.

Another important concern is the practice of focusing large acreages on one crop or a few strains of a crop. While economies of scale are associated with this practice, so are environmental risks. Unless managed properly, this limited approach to production can lead to depletion of the soil and destruction of fertile lands. This practice should be carefully assessed in light of its environmental impacts.