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Farm Bureau on Toledo Water Crisis: Who, Me?
Last week, the Texas Farm Bureau, a state chapter of the American Farm Bureau Federation, wrote on its website that “mega-farming” didn’t “exactly” contaminate Lake Erie and lead to the Toledo water crises.
Jay Bragg, a Bureau official, wrote that, “It’s troubling that national media outlets are failing to discuss the magnitude of other contributing factors, as well as characterizing family farms as ‘mega/industrial’ operations.”
What’s actually troubling is that big agriculture continues to shamelessly attempt to shift blame rather than take responsibility.
There’s no doubt that multiple factors have contributed to Lake Erie’s degradation, but don’t be fooled by the line that the AFBF has been valiantly fighting to protect our land and water.
Quite the opposite.
The AFBF does not consider land and water conservation a priority issue. In fact, it has vehemently opposed previous attempts to expand basic land protection strategies, despite widespread support from farmers and Congress.
If the AFBF was genuinely interested in solving the problem exposed by the Toledo crisis, it would support simple, mandatory conservation practices instead of constantly fighting them.
Today, the US Department of Agriculture does not require farmers to implement any conservation practices. As demonstrated by the Toledo crises, this voluntary tact has created a piecemeal approach to land and water conservation that, ultimately, doesn’t adequately protect human or environment health.
By requiring simple conservation measures from all farmers – such as planting strips of grass along rivers and streams that border crop fields – we can ensure that every acre of American farmland is being protected for future generations.
Fortunately, it’s too late for the Texas Farm Bureau to turn aside the media’s accurate analysis of the Toledo story. If it were smart, the AFBF would start working for stronger land and water protections today in order to prevent the next crisis.