Added: Shadi Osbourn - Date: 02.01.2022 01:58 - Views: 49460 - Clicks: 3090
This two-section essay each of us communicating our own perspectives outlines some of our thoughts on Iowa water quality within the context of production agriculture, and why we are beginning a regular podcast on this topic. The main reason I meandered into the podcast with Dr.
Jones is that, since I have come back to Iowa four years ago, I have realized how distorted the narrative around agriculture is in the state. Not only is it distorted, it is often not logical or consistent. The kind of farming prevalent in Iowa is heavily subsidized in multiple ways.
At least two ways are direct, through subsidies, via the crop insurance program and before, direct paymentswhich creates incentives to produce more fossil-fuel intensive and polluting crops, and then via conservation payments, where taxpayers subsidize farmers to clean up the pollution they have paid to generate.
Most of the environmental costs of CAFO livestock production and conventional crop production are also socialized, in the sense that farmers are not responsible for the air and water quality degradation they cause. We bear those costs directly in terms of reduced quality of life, impaired health, and environmental degradation. And why are there many farmers not interested in adopting conservation practices even with substantial subsidies? Farmers are presented as victims of the system, while in truth Iowa farmers in particular are represented by one of the most powerful lobbies in the country, which has successfully blocked any meaningful action to address pollution including climate change for decades.
This is at least in part due the heavily subsidized nature of our production system. Iowa is in fact the largest recipient of federal agricultural subsidies. The owner-renters, who farm over 20 million acres, on average own over acres and rent and get subsidies, on average, on over acres. And As our water quality progressively worsens, despite the hundreds of millions of taxpayer money spent on conservation, and large parts of rural Iowa continue to lose populationIowa farmers have largely been insulated or in fact benefited from trade wars and the pandemic.
This is not, however, what you hear in discussions about agricultural policy.
As a public employee with expertise on these issues, it is part of my service mandate to speak to Iowans and beyond about what the reality on the ground truly is. In doing so, I am inspired by T. Schultz, who was chased out of Iowa State University coincidentally my alma mater by the dairy lobby for sharing with the public through a pamphlet that it made sense to consume margarine instead of butter during WWII, when butter was twice as expensive and the dairy industry forbade the sale of yellow margarine, so as to make it look less palatable you can read about the story here and here.
If the people of Iowa believe, as I think they do, that the most serious problems affecting their welfare over the next few decades lie in the fields of economics, governance and social organization, they have a strong interest in having the of unbiased, timely and courageous research in the social sciences. Professor Schultz used the media technology at his disposal at the time — pamphlets and letters to the paper of record — to make sure Iowans were transparently informed about special interests and who was benefiting from agricultural policies.
The podcast is our way to reach out to those interested in an honest assessment about the state of our environment. It builds on the unparalleled scientific and institutional knowledge of Dr. Jones whose blog you should definitely read.
Since we have realized the importance of interdisciplinarity and convergence, the podcast also brings a social scientist me and a chemist together to offer different perspectives. Jones and myself and Dr. David Cwiertnywho is advising us all along an opportunity to spend time together to think about important stuff. Since we like to banter and are passionate about these issues, you can rest assured this will not just be a couple of old codger academics blathering.
us! I loved fishing then as I do now, then mostly with my grandfathers, one uncle, and a couple of cousins, and only occasionally my dad, who could take it or leave it. I recall fishing with my grandad from country-road bridge over White Breast Creek in Marion County before Red Rock Lake was filled by the Corps of Engineers, which inundating the lower reaches of that watershed.
In my memory we had a stringer of bullhe hanging from the bridge into the stream, and as we left to go, I pulled up the stringer, which held only the fish he. A snapping turtle had eaten lunch on us. In many ways, it has degraded further. Sure, there are some success stories here and there.
The Clean Water Act did improve Iowa streams, mainly by reducing the amount of aquatic-life-killing ammonia and organic material discharged into Iowa streams from municipal and industrial wastewater effluents. The intensity of soil tillage is less now than in my childhood, improving water clarity. Several harsh pesticides have been made unnecessary through genetic modification of crops. But diversity on the Iowa landscape is probably at its low point. Two species reign—corn and soy. Livestock have been moved into confined production systems, freeing up more land for cultivation of the King and his sidekick.
Pasture is about gone. Oats and other crops are gone. Riparian areas along streams are mostly gone. Country road ditches look like Ankeny lawns. Our streams seem to be either manic and muddy or depressed and blue-green.
Either way, they help kill part of an ocean 1, miles away. Three things about this story drive me to do what I do. The first is that we have the capacity and know-how to fix it. I very likely will enter and leave this earth without water quality in Iowa ever having been good or even adequate by most standards, all because we prioritized economic returns for a few over the integrity of our natural environment. We could have water resources that fit that description; in fact, we have a few in Northeast Iowa that come close.
What we see on our landscape does not happen without the complicity of both political parties. And that is where this collaboration with Silvia begins. Jones out of respect or because she is a Harrison Ford fan. As a long-time fan of the Chris Jones blog, I will definitely make time to listen to this new podcast.
Challenging it can be career-threatening. This podcast will be therapeutic as well as informative. Thank you, Silvia and Chris, for doing something that needs doing. And thank you also, David Cwiertny. Silvia: The main reason I meandered into the podcast with Dr. On September 24,in a letter to the Des Moines Register on his way out, Schultz wrote, If the people of Iowa believe, as I think they do, that the most serious problems affecting their welfare over the next few decades lie in the fields of economics, governance and social organization, they have a strong interest in having the of unbiased, timely and courageous research in the social sciences.
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