Plowing away the prairie, at a price

  • Article by: JOSEPHINE MARCOTTY , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 24, 2012 - 11:07 AM

Farm policy and food demand are eating up a once-vast ecosystem, alarming conservationists.

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  • Comments

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elguevon1Sep. 22, 1210:53 PM

Be glad you are alive now....in 50 years the impact of all these changes to the environment will be truly apparent and irreversible. We are destroying everything for the moment with complete disregard for future generations. I'm not a tree hugger, but it doesn't take one to notice when things are out of control like they are now.

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JRBSep. 22, 1210:56 PM

Taking these three steps would immediately help reverse this disturbing trend: (1) Eliminate all government subsidies for ethanol (2) Eliminate all duties for imported ethanol (3) Eliminate all government involvement in the crop insurance market.

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thatisright1Sep. 23, 1212:06 AM

None of these changes are irreversible; get your head out of the sand. Over the long term, the earth can easily "fix" what humans have "broken." However, in the mean time, several generations of humans may not know the landscape of yesteryear. Regardless, if you don't like what's going on with the prairie, step up and offer to pay land owners what the market can currently generate for cash crops to convert their land to prairie. Also, don't be afraid to pay four-five times more for your food if more prairie is restored. It's a simple choice.

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wellthereugoSep. 23, 1212:22 AM

Hey JRB, eliminate all government involvement and you've got a deal.

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endothermSep. 23, 12 2:04 AM

Destroying the prairie for short-term gain is really going to hurt us in the long run. It is not just about preserving history, animals and plants, it is also important for maintaining clean water supplies for much of the upper Midwest.

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storhoff69Sep. 23, 12 6:50 AM

Like SD, SE Minnesota should contain livestock, grass, and hay. The trend in our part of the state is less livestock and more row crops on highly erodable land. As this machinery continues to get bigger and commodity prices soar; contours strips, buffer zones, water ways, and CRP parcels are also dissapearing. The problem here is simialar to SD and other states. Not only are the farmers after more land with high prices, so are the landlords. It is a two way street here. Land owners should look at the big picuture and not only the big dollar. The word I'm looking for is called 'greed'. I would blame land owners before anybody else, because ultimately, the decision is up to them on who they rent to and how it is farmed.

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pistolaroSep. 23, 12 6:56 AM

Stop burning food for transportation. We have PLENTY of oil now for the next 100 years. In fact the saving of ethanol is zero sum. It cost as much to make as it sells for, in fact without subsidies and mandates it wouldn't sell at ALL. Corn is for food, if we stopped burning it the price may not drop that much due to food demand but they would stop planting so many acres.

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paddlemanSep. 23, 12 7:15 AM

If this was really a food issue, corn would not be the crop of choice to help us, fuel is the culprit not hunger.

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chickfilaSep. 23, 12 7:37 AM

We need to quit converting crops to Ethanol and open up our own vast oil reserves. We would have more and less expensive food, create thousands of hign paying jobs, and be able to stop importing our oil from the volitile and increasingly dangerous Middle East.

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chavistaSep. 23, 12 7:39 AM

thatisright1 Sep. 23, 12 12:06 AM - "None of these changes are irreversible; get your head out of the sand." ****** I believe you're both right and wrong. Nature always wins, there's no doubt of that, but what will the cost be. Removing the prairie means exposing the ground to the forces of nature which will eventually strip away all the topsoil due to wind and water. In effect, all the soil needed to sustain the prairie will be gone forever and can't be replaced. Once the topsoil is gone, the ability to grow either crops or prairie grasses will be gone forever too. Oh yes, other plants will spring up, but typically they will not be the type that will sustain man nor beast. With our increasing population and the inability to grow food on that land in the future, that will affect man. Without trying to sound doomsday, man can destroy himself and that's inevitable if we continue on this journey. Our decisions today will have an effect on our children, grandchildren, and so on.

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