Editorial #47 Environmental Over-reach, February 28, 2019
The interesting thing about any movement is they gradually sneaks up on us with LB 243 another example. This bill creates The Healthy Soil and Water Task force, sponsored by Senator Tim Gragert. He is spot on regarding his agronomic analysis but if we really wanted more farmers to go the direction he wants, the State needs to enable higher farm profits by getting out of the pocket of farmers and ranchers. We already have various incentives offered by NRCS to follow and adopt certain soil practices. In addition, farmers and ranchers do listen to their Extension Service for research and recommendations on how to improve production. Recommendations are already available, framed in short-term economic costs/benefits as well as long-term sustainability. Farmers and ranchers and don’t need BIG BROTHER telling them what to do. They take the risks and stand with any reward or loss.
We all want clean water and clean air and a healthy environment, but when proposals as radical as the green new deal or as (seemingly) benign as LB 243 comes along, it is a classic example of the ignorance and foolishness of a government who are supposedly there to help manage our State’s tax dollars. FARMERS ARE ALREADY ACTIVELY DOING WHAT LB 243 WANTS. The bill says it will make “goals” for setting soil management practices. This is code for: there will be government mandates to eventually “force” landowners to do what some socialist committee dictates. The independent landowner is always concern about conservation, sustainability, and economic viability, but with bills like LB 243, they bristle at the thought of others dictating how to manage their own land.
Such a “task force” is created because that is the way laws and regulations are made. They are highly bureaucratic with a strong potential for civil and perhaps criminal fines when honest, hard-working, conscientious farmers or ranchers don’t function according to the dictates of the “action plan,” or jump at the latest fad. This “task force” agenda is about encoding into law the flawed “science” of “greenhouse gas” from the man made global warming hoax and want to include cover crops as another target.
Studies have shown that over the past 150 years, the world has never been cleaner than today. This is the result of the work addressing the abuses of industrialization along with the care of farmers and ranchers who truly love their land. This does not give us a dispensation from doing whatever we can to take care of our natural resources and use them wisely. Problems predicted by global warming have not materialized, but the fear of having them occur is being fanned by making it a potential concern. Legislation like LB 243 is unwittingly complicit in this agenda.
Today’s cover crops agenda is an outgrowth of Al Gore’s “carbon bank” where he was planning to make billions with a central clearing house for those with carbon “credits” from industry. His “bank” flopped and so did the “science” behind it, but now government is bringing it through the back door with cover crops. Cover crops do not necessarily increase the organic content of soils and do not necessarily sequester carbon as plants decay and the carbon re-released into the atmosphere.
There are concerns that cover crops are not the cure-all the government experts think they are, and may do as much harm as good. Cover crops are planted after harvest, barely grow before winter, and if left too long in the spring, uses up the available nutrients. This requires more nitrogen, causing more leaching of the soil profile into the ground water. (More crop rotations are a better idea, as most savvy farmers know.)
In addition, this cover crop needs to be killed with chemicals such as glyphosate, better known as Round-Up. Now more chemicals are being applied to the soil, causing concerns as to what these chemicals are doing to soil micro-organisms as well as human and animal health. Building soil organic matter is not just a matter of planting a crop. Vegetation itself doesn’t necessarily do that. The atmospheric carbon develops into the sugars produced by photosynthesis and that is the key to building soil organic matter. It is these sugars that go into the plant roots, and some of it goes through the roots into the soil. The soil micro-organisms thrive on those sugars, and it is these soil micro-organisms that build soil organic matter.
The sugar (carbon) content varies with the time of year, stage of maturity and with different kinds of plants, and even within different varieties of the same kind of plants. Some corn hybrids for example, even though there is a lot of vegetation, are really just low energy weeds that are low in sugars and do not make good feed. They do very little to build soil organic matter.
The industry of studying any environmental issue is huge with any incentive to solve a problem practically non-existent. They only have a self-serving incentive to find more problems rather than solve any of them. If they do not find more problems they would be out of a job.
This observation is very important to note. Government bureaucracies are notorious for forming “Committees to study the issue”. These are fighting word for those who care about an efficient government that is supposed to be careful with our tax dollars. The result is a department with perpetual life. It births is a report that tells us what private industry already knows with intense pressure from the committee to use the information from the study to justify the money spent on its developing.
All this is done with the most honest of intentions, but always seems to evolve into a solution that is looking for a problem. LB 243 is a classic case in point. It creates a task force committee, with over a dozen members, to study soil and water issues on agriculture land over a five year period. At the end of the study a report with recommendations that will probably impact the way agriculture is conducted and charge to the land owner for the “services” they are providing.
This is more evidence that we no longer really own our land. We are simply renting if from the government, like a landlord who will take it away if the rent or taxes, in this case, are not paid. They will also have police power to charge violators with a felony if the land owner does not comply with the demands that came from their study.
These are the quiet and subtle issues that must be confronted. Farmers and ranchers care about their land more than anyone else and to allow bureaucrats, who often know very little about the issue, telling us what we can or cannot do, is insulting to those who love and care for a natural resource that is their nest egg and heritance for future generations.
If Senator Gragert really wants to do something for long-term sustainability of Nebraska agriculture, and to promote good soil health practices, with a good return on investment, concentrate on taking the onerous taxes for education off Ag land!! That will promote even stronger incentives for conservation and good soil health practices because it will make their land more valuable for the next generation.
Help stop the nonsense of LB243, by expressing your thoughts to your Senator. Farmers don’t need more senseless laws and regulations with potentially big fines stuffed down their throats.
With help from my friends, this is Keith Kube wishing you the best in making the world a better place.
Feel free to contact Keith by going to his website www.keithkube.com for additional information or listen to past editorials. Under “Contacts” you will also find links for contacting any of our State Senators along with links for hearing schedules and copies of all proposed bills.