Agreement W/Fisher some with the Farm Bureau

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Monday’s 3/28/11 local Star Democrat front page reported on two very different points of view about the EPA mandated Chesapeake Bay TMDL program. Tom Fisher, a scientist at Horn Point Lab, who along with his students have monitored the sub watersheds of the Choptank River for several decades, have recorded a steady decline in water quality due to nutrient pollution mainly from over fertilization of farm fields but also from urban sources. He is quoted as saying that while we are finally on the right path after 26 years of futile effort he does not think that some of these (voluntary BMPs) are strong enough. The second article is a report on a presentation by The American Farm Bureau Federation describing the reasons for the organization’s lawsuit against EPA filed in PA District Court trying to stop the TMDL program. He is quoted as saying that farmers were doing enough and further they were concerned about passing their resources onto their kids. He also said that EPA was throwing someone under a bus and that we need to make decisions as a Nation.

This writer agrees with much of what was reportedly said. The TMDL is weak in that it is not addressing the issues directly but indirectly through questionable voluntary Best Management Practices (BMPs). Example: we should be reducing fertilizer application rates rather than hoping that cover crops possibly planted too late in various weather conditions will soak up excess nitrogen. We should use developed treatment systems to treat all CAFO manure rather than build housekeeping pads and manure storage sheds. We should follow the USDA’s minimal published standards for soil management. We should stop wasteful irrigation methods. Industrial Agriculture is a system created to produce only meat and sugar. The system is using up our topsoil and our fresh water and contaminating our air, ground water, and surface water. The products produced are the primary cause of major health problems for the Nation (see Cancer and Heart Disease archives). I agree with the Farm Bureau in that solutions should be mandated on a National basis. Farming practices in most areas of the Country are far worse than the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Is the Gulf of Mexico less important than Chesapeake Bay? How can grain farmers in the Bay watershed compete on a nonlevel playing field? Yes effective solutions will drive up the cost of meat and sugar but higher prices and less consumption will reduce health care cost and improve health, a National crisis.

 

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