Photo courtesy NRCS
American farmers believe conservation programs
and environmental stewardship are key components of the farm bill and
critical to their bottom line, according to a poll released recently by
National Farmers Union.
The bipartisan poll, conducted by Greenberg
Quinlan Rosner Research (a Democratic polling firm) and Public Opinion
Strategies (a Republican polling firm) surveyed 502 American farmers
across 13 Midwestern and Great Plains states on their views regarding
farm bill conservation programs. The results show that farmers view
conservation programs and environmental stewardship as key components to
the farm bill and critical to their future and bottom line.
“The findings of this survey demonstrate the
deep commitment to conservation that farmers have across the
heartland,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “As Congress moves
forward crafting the farm bill, we would emphasize the importance
conservation programs play for farmers both for environmental
stewardship and continued productivity.”
The survey was conducted in Iowa, Illinois,
Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska,
Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Specific highlights of the
Eighty-six percent of farmers say the level of
conservation funding should be maintained or increased. Nearly half
would be less likely to support a member of Congress who voted to cut
conservation funding more than the $6 billion in the Senate-passed farm
Conservation programs rank as the second-highest priority
for inclusion in the farm bill, and farmers are not swayed by an
argument that says conservation funding should be cut in order to
prioritize risk management coverage.
Farmers view conservation as a priority that is vital to
their long-term economic viability with nearly three-quarters of farmers
saying that conservation programs help their bottom line.
By a nearly two-to-one margin, farmers believe that
farmers should be required to meet some environmental standards in order
to receive federal benefits such as crop insurance.
New research should nail the
coffin lid shut on a toxic bee-killing pesticide
Iowa Soil Erosion Report Released
"Across wide swaths of Iowa and other Corn Belt states, the rich, dark soil that made this region the nation’s breadbasket is being swept away at rates many times higher than official estimates. That is the disturbing picture revealed by new techniques that track soil erosion with unprecedented precision."
Those words are from the Environmental Working Group that recently released its report "Losing Ground." Read more.
Leopold Center Offers Plan to Boost Local Food Economy in Iowa
A new statewide plan would boost the local food economy and increase opportunities for those who want to buy or sell Iowa-raised meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fruit, vegetables and other crops in local and regional markets.
These recommendations are part of the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan, submitted to the Iowa Legislature by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. During last year’s legislative session, the Center was asked to provide specific policy and funding actions that would support and expand local and regional food systems in Iowa.
The Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan has 34 recommendations, including creation of a state-level local food and farm program, education and training for producers and local food businesses, changes in state policy to benefit local food businesses, and data collection to track growth of local food sales. The plan calls for a one-year state appropriation to hire a local food and farm state coordinator. In subsequent years, the position and cost to implement other recommendations would be supported by a voluntary Local Food and Farm Program Fund.
LeMonde, the French publication, recently published an article about a molecular study conducted by Mexican, American and Dutch researchers demonstrates the presence of genes from genetically modified organisms (GMO) among the varieties of traditional corn cultivated in the remote regions of Oaxaca State in the southern part of the country, even though the Mexican government has always maintained a moratorium on the use of transgenic seed. Read the article translated into English here...
One third of honeybee colonies are disappearing due to "colony collapse disorder." Two common pesticides are being linked to the disorder symptoms in honeybees. Find out more here...
Global Warming Could Severely Harm U.S. Crops
The Union of Concerned Scientists
writes in its October 2009 edition of Food & Environment
Electronic Digest that "Rising temperatures could hurt
productivity (or yields) of important crops according to a series of
studies. A recent paper by two economists stated that although yields of
corn, soybeans, and cotton increase with temperatures up to an average
of 84 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the growing season, after that
point yields plummet. Assuming that we continue to grow these crops in
the same regions and that we reduce global warming emissions to half of
1991 levels by 2050, yields could fall by 30 to 46 percent by the
end of the century. If emissions continue unabated—the worst-case
scenario considered—yields could drop by 63 to 82 percent. The effects
of climate change are expected to hit even harder in developing
countries. Read the
study abstract in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
or read a
blog post about it by one of the authors."