Some think of agroecology as a science, others as a farming system, and others as a global social movement. It is actually all three. Agroecology obviously is a merging of the words agriculture and ecology. Its basic purpose is reconnect agriculture with its biophysical, agronomic, economic, and philosophical roots in natural ecosystems.
The Constitution of the United States gives very few economic responsibilities to government. The economic theory of “self-regulating” markets was the prominent economic philosophy at the time the Constitution was written. Economists believed that periods of cyclical unemployment would be corrected by lower wages, increasing profits and providing incentives for businesses to invest, restoring full employment. Under this theory, the government’s primary responsibility was to maintain the competitiveness of markets. This economic philosophy prevailed well into the twentieth century.
Urban agriculture provides a significant portion of the world’s food supply today and is likely to be even more important in the future—including in the United States. Some critics see the trend toward urban agriculture as a passing fad brought on by public attention to urban “food deserts." Critics contend that food production has moved away from cites for sound economic reasons and is not likely to return. However, today's urban agriculture movement is just one dimension of a larger quest for agricultural sustainability, both of which are direct consequences of industrialization.
The professional opinions expressed in John Ikerd's presentation papers do not necessarily represent those of the University of Missouri.