I hear the phrase “sustainable agriculture” used frequently these days.It’s a term that always crops up at farming conferences and in government documentsbut what does it actually mean in the context of farming. I have seen it defined as the production of food, fibre or other plantor animal products that use farming techniques that protect the environment,public health, human communities and animal welfare. In the face ofsoaring global populations and a need to increase food production, sustainableagriculture is hailed as the saviour to some of the world’s most pressingproblems. But this can’tbe done without a better understanding of the connection between humans andfood. There are people here inPembrokeshire, a county with a proud farming heritage, who struggle to put foodon the table. Naturally, when a discount food store opens up, they flock to itknowing they will likely be able to buy food at an affordable price. Although there are many reasons why food is cheap, not least becausefarmers are paid too little for their efforts, but improved technology is afactor. The rule ofthumb seems to be that if you have a farming practice which maintains yieldswhile increasing environmental goods and benefits, then this is sustainable. Many farmers think what they do is sustainable because they are takingcare of the environment, keeping chemical usage to a minimum and producing safefood. As the economics of agriculture have forced farmers here in Pembrokeshireto upscale, a benefit is that it allows consumers to eat affordably. Using “sustainable” on a food label might sell more products or enable afood company to charge a higher price, but sustainable means nothing to someonewho just wants to be able to buy food without having to sacrifice somethingelse. One thing is for certain and that is that we need farmers. But farmers needto be able to make a living and therefore a balance needs to be struck between thecost of producing food and the price paid by consumers if the agriculture industryin Pembrokeshire is to have a good future.