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Sounding the Conservation Alarm

Sounding the Conservation Alarm

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Tri-State Neighbor, which covers agriculture in South Dakota, Iowa and Minnesota, reports that the Izaak Walton League of America convened a conservation forum for South Dakota ag officials, producers and conservationists. There, an official from the National Association of Conservation Districts offered candid comments on the state of agriculture conservation:

Jack Majeres doesn’t think producers have been doing nearly enough to conserve natural resources in the past few years.

Addressing a Farm Bill Conservation Forum in Sioux Falls on May 2, the Dell Rapids farmer and second vice president of the National Association of Conservation Districts said the erosion he sees “tears my heart out.” In some instances, the chairman of the Moody County Conservation District sees it as “greed.” Many of the megafarmers of today, he said, are “gobbling up every piece of ground they can get.”

“Are they doing a good job of farming it? When I see the erosion coming from some of these acres, it tears my heart out,” he said.

With the large farm implements of today, many grass waterways simply are disappearing, he said, as the producers roll right through them.

And as more farmers tile their land, “it’s creating a huge amount of sedimentation in our streams,” he said.

With land and commodity prices going up, Majeres said he also has had some producers tell him they can’t afford to keep land in grass or establish buffer zones for the tile discharges.

“We need to get back to the basic conservation and stewardship ethics”

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader poses five questions for Jeff Zimprich, incoming South Dakota state conservationist:

Q: Why should people care about conserving natural resources?

A: So much of South Dakota’s economy depends on the bountiful natural resources that were placed in the state. For that economy to continue long-term, even to expand in the future, we need to protect our soil so it remains productive. We need to protect our water so it remains clean — not only for drinking but for our livestock, for recreation.

And Stacey James of Prairie Rivers writes in the Chicago Tribune:

In Illinois, there are abundant reasons why farmers should be held to some pollution standards. Illinois water suppliers in Springfield, Decatur, Bloomington and Danville have had to invest millions of dollars in technologies that remove agrochemicals from drinking water.


Table Scraps:

-       3,800 people have weighed in so far on EWG president Ken Cook’s “Farm Bill Litmus Test for the Food Movement.”

-       Western Farm Press reports that with the historic organic trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union set to take effect June 1, the organic food industry can now join chemical and GMO agriculture in claiming to “feed the world.”

-        The Santa Monica Times asks, “How do green groups feel about the new 2012 Farm Bill draft recently released by the Senate?”

-       Stanford researchers have serious concerns about U.S. ethanol policy and point to production mandates as the catalyst for ethanol’s unintended consequences.

-       The industrial food and agriculture PR machine Truth in Food laments how “the well-funded, professionally crafted PR responses from agriculture begin to take on an air of quiet desperation.”

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