Anderson: Raising crops and conservation awareness

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 1, 2013 - 12:52 AM

A farming family takes up the challenge of working the soil without harming the land and water, moving onto the side of conservationists.

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thotabtitAug. 31, 13 9:04 PM

Farming is a business that does not play under the same environmental rules as other business or industrys. Compliance with pollution laws for farmers is pretty much vollentary. For the most part, farmers who "are environmentally concious", suffer financially. An example may be "control of soybean aphids", which are a persistant pest which can make a big difference in "profit or loss".The pesticide which is most commenly used kills pheasants, directly or indirectly, but it is the cheapest and most effective. I am a farmer who has not cancelled his CRP contracts, but also must make a living. What would you do?

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9moonsSep. 1, 13 8:09 PM

thotabtit, I'm sure you could make a fine living even using good conservation practices. It all depends on how greedy you are for even more profit.

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thotabtitSep. 1, 13 8:29 PM

9moons. You missed my point completely, and perhaps this is my fault. What I was trying to say is, "farming is a business, and the present farm bill and the present environmental laws do not favor clean water and environmental safegaards". Another example is; agricultural drainage is considered "non point" pollution. In other words, no one is resposible or accountable for the resulting pollution.

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neilgdSep. 1, 1311:51 PM

It's a shame that it took this long for Anderson and others who frequently lambast farmers to learn some of the basic tenets that he learned on this visit. Guess what? Not all farmers are bad!

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gimruisSep. 3, 13 1:03 PM

Its true, not all farmers are hurting the land. This one is obviously doing a fine job. Overall, the agriculture community is heading down a grim road though. All you have to do is look at Iowa the past decade and similarly, the recently released South Dakota pheasant count which is down 85% in some areas.

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carlbsSep. 3, 13 4:42 PM

Good to see that Peterson is doing the right thing. Why can't we make his practices law? You just can't expect enough farmers to adapt good practices if they are not mandatory. And now that farming is increasingly corporatized, there will no conscientious owner that cares. Maybe that's what happened to Shara. He has become more of a corporation and is looking out only for the bottom line.

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Sutty69Sep. 4, 13 7:42 AM

You don't need a law for everything. Farming is a business and if farmers can earn more profit doing things smarter common sense will prevail.

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jeanne1939Sep. 4, 13 2:52 PM

Implicit in all the comments I read here is that government policy must NOT encourage bad practice. Unfortunately, current farm policy encourages people to farm every foot of land with one of the five subsidized crops--cotton, rice, soybeans, corn and sugar (beets) and to fling caution to the wind (frequent)because risk taking is encouraged. With climate change drastically reducing yields in some areas, prices spike up and risky farming pays off handsomely, leaving the soil degraded or eroded. In short, we need farm policy which encourages farmers to reduce carbon loss, with less fertilizer and herbicide use. Those who are doing no-till, crop rotation, cover cropping and similar practices can reap very good profits, as shown by research done at the U. of Minnesota and Iowa State U. in Ames.

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lakeelmo99Sep. 4, 13 3:42 PM

We had a couple farmers put large tilled but unplanted plots up for sale this spring hoping a developer or two would push the button. No go. The dirt fields lay empty all summer not a weed in sight. Now that's powerful herbicide! It's why Monsanto and other chemical companies' spread their PR all over TV and radio. You know an industry is bad when their member association pays for TV spots to tell you what to think.

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sandcornSep. 6, 13 7:23 AM

Good article Dennis, Thanks. There are issues in everything people do. A report from USGS states the single largest contributer to the Gulf dead zone is the Chicago area. It seems the commenters could care less what you and the USGS have found or will find. They have their opinions. An example of the bias farmers face is, there is not a free flowing creek in Hennipen County. When it rains, the pollution instantly runs down the curb and gutter into storm drains and directly into the river and on to the Gulf. Most farmers are working to improve practices. Residential and retail construction are installing more and more unchecked run-off.

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