Pollution in Minnesota’s drinking water has gotten worse in recent years, but no one wants to call out the industry responsible. It’s been the primary source of water pollution for decades, making water in some areas of the country dangerous to drink and costing local taxpayers millions of dollars to clean it up.
Recently, spring weather in upper Midwest has been warmer and dryer, leading farmers in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota to plant corn in early April. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress Report, since 2013 there's been a big rise in corn planted by mid-April, the earliest farmers in the region can plant and be eligible for federally subsidized crop insurance.
Federal crop insurance encourages growers to plant crops on land that is vulnerable to soil erosion and discourages landowners from adopting good conservation practices.Read More
Drinking water, lakes and rivers in Iowa and across the Corn Belt are in serious trouble because of polluted farm runoff. To tackle the problem, for decades we’ve taken the approach favored by agricultural interests – making federal tax dollars available for conservation practices that curb runoff, encouraging farmers to adopt those practices, then hoping enough of them volunteer to do the right thing.
When you buy home or car insurance, you expect to collect only when there’s a disaster – a tornado, a hailstorm or a collision. If there was a policy that paid out year after year, you only had to pay less than half of the premium and you’d actually make money from buying it, you’d jump at it – but the insurer would be foolish.Read More
The federal Renewable Fuel Standard is supposed to promote fuels that emit less global warming pollution than gasoline. But it’s done just the opposite, stimulating a boom in ethanol made from corn, which over its life cycle causes emissions of more climate-wrecking carbon than gasoline. Yet the Renewable Fuel Standard continues to encourage production of ethanol – and now the EPA’s internal watchdog wants to know why.Read More
Requiring farmers to plant 50-foot wide grass strips, or buffers, between cropland and streams would jumpstart progress toward cleaning Iowa’s dirty water while affecting only a handful of growers and a minuscule number of acres, a new report from Environmental Working Group shows.Read More
A mega-farm is a colloquial term, not an official designation used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nor any other agricultural authority for that matter. Yet it’s often bantered about in reference to the Corn Belt—the corn-producing states in the Midwest—where the consolidation of commodity farms continues at an unprecedented pace.Read More
In 2007, corn ethanol was offered up as an environmentally friendly alternative to gasoline. But nearly seven years to the day since Congress put it in play, we’re still not seeing the benefits. In fact, quite the opposite.Read More
In what has become an annual ritual, Congress unveiled this week a massive spending bill to keep the government going, which includes provisions that would cut hundreds of millions of dollars from vital programs that protect our land and water.Read More
Organic farming isn’t just a niche for a privileged elite.
A new study, published today (Dec 10th) in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London shows that organic farmers can achieve yields nearly as large as their counterparts practicing conventional agriculture. And they can still cultivate crops without highly toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers that pollute groundwater and stimulate algae blooms that suffocate marine life.Read More
Clean, cheap water from your tap might soon be a thing of the past.Read More
Corn-based ethanol is a major cause of the water pollution that is ravaging the Mississippi River basin and the Gulf of Mexico, a report by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) inspector general concluded this week (Sept. 4).Read More
In 2013, an Environmental Working Group report titled “WASHOUT” documented that soil erosion across Iowa farm land during that spring’s heavy rains had been far worse than previous estimates – in some cases carrying away a devastating 40 tons of soil in a single week from fragile and poorly protected fields. In many places, runoff carved “ephemeral gullies” as a result of growers’ inadequate conservation measures.Read More
Next Tuesday (Aug. 5), Missourians will decide if their state constitution should be amended to enshrine a so-called “Right-to-Farm” provision. The vaguely worded and open-ended amendment states, “the right of farmers and ranchers to engage in farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this state.”Read More
A new study from the University of Minnesota confirms what we’ve been saying – big agriculture is contaminating your drinking water.Read More
When people think about the causes of global warming, the food they eat typically doesn’t make the short list. But agriculture is responsible for 80 percent of human-caused emissions of nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
And now a new study by researchers at Michigan State University shows that using more fertilizers than crops need is even more harmful to the climate than previous estimates indicated.Read More