USDA Abdicates Regulatory Responsibility

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The USDA is failing to meet its regulatory responsibility in 3 areas that must be quite obvious to its scientists and professional staff. Someday this lack of regulatory responsibility will be the subject of a National debate as it is currently in the financial industry.

SOIL EROSION- USDA/SARE recently republished what might be considered a bible of soil management by Magdoff/Van Es. In the chapters on crop rotation and soil erosion the authors state that the lack of live roots in the ground during heavy rain events is the primary cause of massive soil erosion such as occurred in the Midwest in the Spring of 2008. The most dominant crop rotation is a 2-crop corn and soybean rotation which has live roots in the ground only 32% of the time. Increasing to a 3 crop rotation produces live roots 76% of the time. USDA must mandate an immediate increase preferably to a 3 crop rotation plus mandatory winter cover when heavy rains are likely.

The Gulf Hypoxia Report published by leading US scientific organizations in 2000 recommended a 20% reduction in commercial fertilizer application rates. Hypoxia in major Estuaries including Chesapeake Bay continues to increase as reported in the PBS Gulf update and by EPA nutrient load charts (see our blog under pages). USDA must immediately reduce current fertilizer application rates by at least 25%.

Farm animal waste from CAFO chickens, hogs and cattle must be managed as recommended in 2007 by the Pew Commission, an Industry Commission chaired by former Kansas Governnor and dairy farmer George Carlin. USDA has ignored this report and others which point to the massive damage caused by these facilities.

The excuse for lack of regulation of an out of control industry appears to be the higher cost and reduction of corn based products. The following is the opinion of Walter Willett head of the Nations largest academic nutrition department at Harvard University.
“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.”

Rather than coming to grips with its failure to regulate the abuses of the Agricultural Industry the USDA continues to ask the taxpayer to fund these abuses by spending our tax money for grain subsidies. The 2012 farm bill is the time for USDA to correct this terrible and destructive injustice.

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