May 30, 2008

Compare and Contrast

Last word on the Farm Bill, I swear. But here is something terribly indicative of the subsidy problem and the lack of priorities in Washington.

First, a classified from the January/February 2008 issue of Passages, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s newsletter.

FOR SALE – Organic, 100% grass-fed cows. Traders Point has a unique offering: Nature is not always the nurturer and the summer of ’07 will attest to that. The combination of unseasonably warm temperatures and half of the normal rainfall has exacted its toll on the farm. We really have no other choice (emphasis mine) than to sell off a portion of our herd. Traders Point remains one of the only creameries in the nation to have a year round 100% organic grass-fed herd. USDA certified by Indiana Certified Organic. Care has been taken to find high protein levels as well as higher fat content. The Brown Swiss heritage is also foremost in the field of health nutrition with the highest CLA. Call or email…

And a repeat from an earlier post, from a farmer commenting on the Washington Post’s Web site on a Farm Bill story.

My farm is bordered on one side by a river. The bank on my side is between 20 and 30 feet high, and my property never floods in the fall rains and none-too occasional hurricane. The bank on the other side is only about 5 or 6 feet above the average water level, and it routinely - I could even say reliably - floods in the fall. The land on that side of the river amounts to about 200 acres, and every spring, my neighbor plants it in corn. He gets paid to. It doesn't matter the floods ruin the crop every year, that the floods leave all the ears mildewed and unfit even for cattle feed. He gets paid to plant his 200 acres in corn, and so he does. I'd hazard to guess that he gets paid for the loss, too, by federal crop adjustment insurance.

One dairy farm, pursuing the most sustainable approach, has to sell one of the cows that produces its end product, because of conditions far beyond their control that have eliminated the cows source of food and nutrients.

The other knowingly plants corn that nobody will eat -- at least not in the form of actual corn -- in a field that will very likely flood, thus ruining the crop, and gets paid for it. Twice.


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