Could Our Food Supply be in Danger?
By Joyce Morrison, Illinois Agri-Women
I received an email from friends who are farmers in South Dakota telling me that much of their area has been flooded, and where it isn’t flooding, rains have prevented planting. While crops look good in Jersey County, in a brief moment this could change with the erratic weather patterns. It has been a tragic year for farmers across the nation.
The rampage of the Missouri River and releasing of water from the reservoirs has destroyed thousands of acres of farmland and reports are not good.
A conservative estimated loss of $85.2 million, the blasting of the Bird’s Point levee in Southeast Missouri flood water inundating over 130,000 acres of rich farmland to save the town of Cairo, remains controversial. Pictures show huge gouges in the fields that will take years to heal. The Wetlands Initiative and other groups are anxious to see the Bird’s Point farms made into a “River Park” while SIU professors and others have advocated it become a huge wetland. Neither option is welcome by farmers who own this property. This land has been farmed for over 100 years and is known for its high productivity.
California’s San Joaquin Valley, which produces a large percent of fresh food, has been deprived irrigation by environmentalists. Texas is suffering a drought and wildfires have destroyed pasture and crops. Every state has a story to tell about the toll on food production. It reminds me of an article I wrote for News with Views.com in 2004 entitled “Where will we get our food?”
Following is an excerpt from that article:
“We take for granted that all we have to do is go to the grocery store or restaurant for food. We are spoiled. Anything we want to eat at any time is available and we tend to forget where the foodImage actually comes from.
Our bread and cereal comes from wheat, corn or grains. We eat fresh, frozen or canned fruits, vegetables and juices. Even pizza is a combination of grains, meats and vegetables. Some form of soybean is in many of our food items. Of course all dairy and meat items are produced on the land where the animals are fed grain and hay.
The American public should understand that before conservation easements, wetlands, open space, green space, heritage preservation areas, parks, refuges, floodplains and all the other land preservation programs take over, we need to ask, “What will I eat when this land is no longer producing food?”
Will we become as dependent on third world countries for food as we are for our oil? Land taken or regulated will most likely never be returned to the farmers who farmed the land. Will farmers become the next endangered species?
When land goes out of production and grazing is no longer permitted, food costs will sky rocket. If we have to import our food, will we have the same control of the safety standards that we have in America? Will our choice of food always be readily available? What will be the cost?”
When land is owned by the government and environmental groups, land use changes reduce property tax income for the county and the burden of this loss falls on those who still own property. When farmers no longer farm the land, many local farm related businesses will close their doors because there will be no need for implements, fertilizer and seed or any other purchases made by producers. This creates a domino effect for the community because the restaurants, hair dressers, grocery stores, auto dealerships and other local businesses feel the impact.
Each year thousands of acres of farmland are turned into state or federal parks, open space or other government programs. If this land is sold, who would be the buyer? A foreign nation? An 11,000 acre farm, once the largest farm in Illinois, is now a wetland owned by US Fish and Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy. Why all the interest to make a swamp out of our cornfields?
In 1971, the United States signed an agreement in Ramsar, Iran called the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Treaty. Once designated, these sites are added to the Convention’s List of Wetlands of International Importance and become known as Ramsar sites.
In 2009, the Upper Mississippi River was designated a “Wetland of International Importance.” The area extends from Wabasha, Minnesota to north of Rock Island, IL. We need to emphasize that grain is shipped by barge. Repeated efforts to update the antiquated, deteriorating lock and dam system on the Mississippi River has failed. Why? It would be interesting to know if it is somehow related to the international wetlands agreement made in Ramsar, Iran.
Civil Engineer Carol LaGrasse of the Property Rights Foundation of America wrote an article entitled, “Surgically Removing the Aorta of America, The Mississippi River Corridor.” LaGrasse says, “The National Park Service is the entity in the U.S. which carries out the UN Biosphere Reserve program to restore areas to pre-human, uninhabited condition. Of the five federal agencies to oversee the Mississippi River Corridor, the prime entity is the National Park Service.” Do they want the river corridor uninhabited by humans?
We need to be very careful when we participate in “International” programs. We must remember we are the “sovereign” United States of America and decisions about wetlands, World Heritage Areas, floodplains and even building codes should not be decided using international guidelines. The motto for global Agenda 21 is to “Think globally — Act locally.” Dangle a grant and you can get the “local communities” to participate. Jersey County, along with most communities, has adopted grant driven sustainable programs that connect to global regulations. Do you know what this will mean for you and for future generations?