To borrow a word from Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, I’m not going to “bloviate” too much on this topic. I’m much more interested in what you as farmers think. But just beware that farmers are getting their eyes blackened a little bit in the past week by a couple stories making the rounds.
First, there was a story about farmland soil erosion in the Des Moines Register last Wednesday that’s been filtering around the Internet. Check it out here. It’s the ugly photo — something that I would think our No-Till Farmer readers would find offensive — that’s not making farmers look too good.
Second, I just read a Fox News story about farm subsidies perhaps coming under the knife. You can read it here. While we can try to justify farm subsidies because of competitive imbalances with farmers in other countries, the fact that we have a government that needs its spending to go on a major diet before we mortgage our children’s future, along with an ag economy that has prospered in comparison to the general economy, it’s going to be awfully hard to tell the general U.S. public suffering from high unemployment levels that these farm subsidies need to continue.
However, the question begs to be asked. Why not scrap the current farm subsidy programs for ones that encourage farmers to move toward conservation-tillage practices like no-till and strip-till?
If high diesel fuel prices aren’t enough to make farmers cut down on the trips across the field and no-till, certainly a U.S. public that likes the idea of farmers being more conservation-minded by using less diesel fuel and using soil-saving practices ought to get them behind a program that encourages farmers to no-till.
Or how about subsidizing farmers to plant cover crops that can capture nutrients in the soil so they can be used by the next cash crop, or help hold that valuable soil in place so sediment and nutrients don’t end up in watersheds?
While I realize farmers who have shown the ingenuity and the dedication to no-till may not benefit as much from these types of programs as farmers who first embrace these practices, don’t you think we’d all be better off encouraging these practices and using our tax dollars more wisely?
If you were the President or the Secretary of Ag for a day, what would you propose?