Thousands of farmers are taking their fields out of the government’s biggest conservation program, which pays them not to cultivate. They are spurning guaranteed annual payments for a chance to cash in on the boom in wheat, soybeans, corn and other crops. Last fall, they took back as many acres as are in Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
Environmental and hunting groups are warning that years of progress could soon be lost, particularly with the native prairie in the Upper Midwest. But a broad coalition of baking, poultry, snack food, ethanol and livestock groups say bigger harvests are a more important priority than habitats for waterfowl and other wildlife. They want the government to ease restrictions on the preserved land, which would encourage many more farmers to think beyond conservation.
Stating that the payments are to preserve land for wildlife conservation is lie, right? The real reason is to keep food prices stable. Everyone knows this, so it's not surprising that when you pay people to not grow on their land, they will naturally want to grow things that will make them more money than what the government is offering.
I am really not sure how this all will play out or really what to do about it. I am also not sure how this connects with the current push to change the current Farm Bill to allow small producers to grow organic foods. Crunchy Chicken has coverage on this issue; you can also access Healthyfarmbill.org which has an online petition you can send to congress requesting a more equitable system; finally, you can access the online forum for the USDA's site on the 2007 Farm Bill.
By the way, I got these last two links from Henderson & Daughter Plants and Produce -- they have an email list which is very handy for finding out the goings on at the 441 Farmer's Market, and also the wholesome selections they have on hand for each market Saturday. Drop Erika and her dad an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on their most recent mailing list.
The first link to Crunchy Chicken I got from one of my favorite local bloggers, Kelly, at What We Need is Here. Thanks, Kelly!