Specifics for Bart
Charles Benbrook (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Fri, 17 May 1996 10:56:27 -0400
You asked re some specific action, issue the sus ag community should take
up. In these tight times, as you note, we should back way off corn feeding
to cattle/other livestock and shift them onto more forage based diets.
There is tremendous opportunity to increase land productivity by intensively
managing forages for hay and grazing. At this time there are two large
sources of potential land that farmers are figuring out what to do with --
the less erodible CRP ground and former set-aside land. Most will just be
corned this year, maybe next, but many of us have argued for years the
longer-term solution was to use the CRP and other policy tools to build a
bridge from unsustainable row-crop systems to longer-term rotations and
mixed crop-livestock farms. The benefits from such a solution have been
outlined 50 times on SANET, as have the reasons the livestock industry
andthe capital that shapes and sustains it, are moving in the opposite
So, the NRCS/USDA is reformulating CRP early out, and related haying
and grazing policies, and giving away major freebies paid for the public.
It would be nice if the USDA/NRCS did it in such a way to strengthen/widen
that bridge just a little, just in case.
One addiitonal thought on the endless debate over the definition of
sustainability. Its not really about what sustainability means -- everyone
intuitively gets it. Its about differing values and implicit weighting
schemes we all have in our heads/hearts re what's most important, what
should drive policy change the most decisively. Its about the fact that
Dennis Avery and Chuck Benbrook have different visions and values about what
the goals/purposes/problems of American ag are. I look forward to debating
visions/values with Dennis, but basically agree with him about the essential
elements of sustainability.