USDA Abdicates Regulatory Responsibility

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Farming and food regulators are ignoring short cuts in corn and animal production that are destroying our soil our water and our health.

The USDA/SARE recently republished its classic book on sustainable soil management by Magdoff/Van Es. In the chapters on crop rotation and erosion it clearly states that soil erosion occurs when the fields are left without live roots in the ground when extreme rainfall occurs. The dominant two-crop corn/soybean rotation has live roots only 32% of the time. Adding a 3rd crop increases the time to 76%. Clearly anything less than a 3 crop plus a winter cover crop is a short cut that cannot be ignored by USDA regulators.

Presidents Clinton’s Gulf Hypoxia study published in 2000 by a blue ribbon commission of US scientists found that fertilizer application to corn in the Midwest was primarily responsible for Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico and recommended a 20% reduction in fertilizer application rates. Hypoxia and the oxygen dead zone increase every year in the Gulf and in Chesapeake Bay as reported in the> PBS documentary. USDA must take its regulatory responsibility seriously and immediately mandate a 25% reduction in fertilizer application rates Nationwide.

CAFO animal producers are simply making a huge mess as pointed out by the Pew Commission report on CAFO farm animal production. The USDA has the regulatory responsibility to correct this by requiring treatment of CAFO manure as called for by the Commission.

End Corn Subsidies in the 2012 farm bill

The excuse for not taking these 4 actions is the reduction of corn-based products that will result. Walter Willett heads the worlds largest nutrition department at Harvard University. His assessment is: “Don – you will find common ground among nutritionists on the harmful effects of very cheap and large amounts of starch from subsidized corn in the US diet, which is the substrate for high fructose corn syrup, and very cheap sugary beverages and feedlot pork and red meat. While not the only contributors these are fueling our epidemics of obesity and diabetes.”

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