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The war over Chesapeake Bay

In a bold cleanup scheme, the government just paid this family to pull up productive farmland.

Source: The war over Chesapeake Bay

 

Unbias journalism, complete story / good research – it all makes for an  interesting article.

Unfortunately the whole sorry tale leaves a hard core environmental activist like me feeling deeply unfulfilled on a few different levels.

Firstly, let’s talk about the government assistance.  How about a little background on that:

Beginning in 1973, policy changes promoted by Nixon Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz deregulated the corn market.  He dismantled supply management policies, selling off government storage bins used as food security reserves and implemented “fencerow to fencerow” planting.  Butz believed any overproduction should then be dealt with thru exports and “free trade.” The Russian Wheat Deal and the World Food Crisis of the early 1970s gave Butz the chance to promote the false notion that free markets would be good for farmers.  Butz and agribusiness giant,  Cargill, along with the Farm Bureau argued that farm prices crashing would be a positive because they would be remedied by more exports and new uses such as ethanol and corn sweeteners. The 1996 Freedom to Farm Act represented the culmination of this “free market” ideology by calling for the elimination, over 7 years,of all price floors and grain reserves. Instead, the “free market” would determine prices. This would  “get government out of agriculture.”    What actually happened was that prices collapsed by 1998 and the government had to bail out farmers with millions in emergency subsidy payments.

Farmers Now Must Rely on Subsidies Due to Volatility of Commodity Markets.Prices collapsed shortly after the 1996 Freedom to Farm Act, necessitating expensive taxpayer bailouts. In 2000,subsidies provided farmers 49% of their net income, up from 13% in 1996. The $1.65 corn price per bushel (1 bushel = 56 pounds) received by Ian and Curt in King Corn is less than the price farmers received in the 1970s, even without  accounting for inflation! Can most folks imagine being paid the same salary they made in 1970?

SOURCE: King Corn Fact Sheet

Okay so this family leases their farm land to a company that farms it.  That company gets said subsidies as explained above.   As someone who previously had farm land leased for corn and soybeans until I took back responsibility for it, I can tell you it’s a pittance that you get from what they sell.  And you can see why.  They don’t get much for it.

They also, nearly guaranteed, use GMO grain – they all do these days for good reason, it’s just too difficult to buck the system for most of them.   Roundup Ready!!!!  Which means they are the polluters….  all that pollution business they’ve been warring about all this time could have ended long ago if there were real regulations with teeth.    But think about this point for a moment…

Had the USA, since the 70s, been sincere, diligent, and forceful in regulating and controlling water, land, and air quality we would certainly have none of the problems described in the lengthy article.    In addition our food and consequently our own health would be better.   Hell, we might even be able to drink from our streams!  Okay maybe I’m going to far but had we all wanted it as much as we wanted that first fancy flatscreen tv…. imagine!

Instead it’s always been about our capitalism, our free market, and the never ending pack of lies that comes from that mantra.  There are plenty of economists, Richard D Wolff for one, who can give you example after example as to how capitalism has failed us over and over again.  I mean, how is it logical (when assessing risk) to subject national food supplies to Booms and Busts?    Couple that with relentless advertising indoctrinating each and every citizen into the Story of Stuff (if you haven’t seen it, you should) and it’s not even hard to connect the dots.

 

Okay enough about the government.  This family.  Maybe it is just the way it was written but I’m sorry, I just don’t see them as heroes.  First of all, they have to have more money than just the income from the farm land for reasons already mentioned.  150 acres?   So again, don’t think they needed that farmland income to stay afloat especially 12 acres.

Even if they do…  the government is paying them for it and doing all the work!

The quote:

“I’m not a big fan of super strict regulations, but the only way to avoid them is to be proactive, and this was something small we could do,” Moedinger said on a recent visit as wind whipped through the tall stream bank grasses, carrying with it the faint scent of wild meadow mint.

Totally agree, it is small.  And to make regulators sound bad and he’s doing something preemptive…. uh who approached who on this deal?  And truly, how effective have regulators been here or anywhere else?  It’s inconsistent at best.

And, again as an environmental activist which I know is far outside the norm of how most Americans think, the comment that “they want to be good stewards of their land” seemed a little insincere.   When I wanted to do that I took back my land from industrial farming and went organic.  You cannot imagine how hard that is! And  I would have planted those trees myself voluntarily to help the stream, water table, and my own land.   It’s not that I think I’m better,  I don’t.  It’s just that I think differently.  I think that everything we are and everything we get comes from the natural world and we cant just want to be good stewards, we ALL have a responsibility to be a good steward. We use to know that.

So, sad story as written as are all the other sub-plots as well.

 

 

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