Letter to the editor: The new farm bill does little to protect the future of agriculture

Johnson County Poor Farm, Feb. 2, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

By Scott Hartley, Fairfield

In an uncharacteristically productive event, Congress has passed the farm bill, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. Ruminant commentators are asking: What’s missing in the farm bill? Their answers demonstrate that it pays little or no attention to preserving the environment where agriculture lives.

I am reflecting that here in Iowa, very much contrary to our folkloric image, we have few farms today. Instead we have outdoor factories, their products mainly Genetically Manipulated Organo-chemical pseudo-food (GMOs). Their polluting runoff has destroyed most higher life-forms in a piece of the Gulf of Mexico larger than New Jersey, and taken from us about 80 percent of the original prairie soil. Walking over winter fields, you can frequently find the yellow clay peeking through where humus-rich organic loam was once three feet deep. All of the public discussion I can find has ignored this distasteful reality, vitally related to any such law, and focused instead on who gets paid by the new farm bill, how much and when (and how can I qualify?).

My question: When do we enact something to create a harvest for the next generation? Or have we actually accepted that our descendants, if any, will eat dirt soup for a thousand years so we can have cheap bacon and drive SUVs for just one or two more decades?

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