As Independence Day approaches, it might be worth the time to think about what your answers will be if someone comes knocking to discuss what you’re doing on your no-till farm.
Consider the following:
• Monsanto’s purchase of Precision Planting earlier this year for $250 million includes Precision’s new FieldView technology, designed to monitor all critical aspects of planter performance and crop-data analysis.
• Wal-Mart sent senior officials to wheat fields this year as the giant retailer explores how it can help farmers produce wheat more efficiently and sustainably. The company is reportedly interested in no-till and precision technology and possibly ‘sponsoring’ its own fields.
• EPA inspectors have been quietly flying over feedlots and farms since March 2010 to check for Clean Water Act violations. And the EPA is also trying to expand its regulatory jurisdiction beyond “navigable waterways” to common structures like roadside ditches and retention ponds.
These could be good things, particularly if they help you farm more profitably, raise a crop in a way that general consumers find more favorable, or if it stops negligent farmers.
But this also raises some big questions: How will you, the farmer, protect the data that belongs to your operation, and what are your rights? How will you continue using the hybrids, varieties and inputs you see fit without being told what to do?
What if Wal-Mart-sponsored farm practices don’t jive with your techniques, which may be as good or better? And how can you protect yourself from the deep pockets of an activist EPA that could overstep its boundaries?
What is the end game here?
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