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Diversification Needed

August 8, 2012

An op-ed piece in today’s New York Times written by William Moseley, a professor of geography at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota is worth a few minutes of your time to read.  Geographers straddle the physical science-social science divide, speaking to natural issues that affect the human condition.

Professor Moseley, viewing the effects of the drought on the nation’s corn crop, speaks of the need for diversification in plantings, as well as a change in the support given by the federal government to farmers for their crops.

Please take a few minutes to read his article.  Even if you are not a farmer, or more specifically, farm corn, you are an eater, and the loss of the nation’s corn crop is going to have a strong effect on rising food prices.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Karl Hayden permalink
    August 8, 2012 6:36 am

    This was a really good op-ed. Unfortunately, I think things will continue along the way they have been for quite sometime to come, and then it will be much harder to fix. To much lobby interest money in this for it to go any other way.

    • August 8, 2012 6:40 am

      I will be the first to admit that I am so new to all this that I do not know all the players, but it strikes me that some entity has co-opted the public interest…..some of the policies that are in place in the federal system do not seem to have the public interest as their goal.

  2. August 8, 2012 8:30 am

    There is such a deficit of field corn in the market (both real and futures market) that petroleum suppliers are now being heavily fined for producing fuel with less than the Govt mandated percentage of petroleum / ethanol mix in gasoline.Due to the high concentration levels of nitrates, drought stressed corn should not be eaten by animals or used in processed foods for human consumption. High nitrates are the result of drought stress. This years feed crop is so stressed that it’s only use may be in the production of ethanol. Even with the resulting shifting of of corn from feed to ethanol, there will remain a deficit for petroleum use. The Govt needs to stop the corn subsidies and get out of the agricultural market. The Govt tends to satisfy the demands of the lobbyist and let the farmer grow rotated diverse grain crops for humans consumption and ethanol be damned!

    Note to local cattle ranchers and farmers reading this blog:

    Q: What happens if I feed too much high-nitrate corn silage to my livestock?

    A: They can get nitrate poisoning. Symptoms are blue-gray discoloration of skin, difficult rapid breathing, weakness, lack of coordination, rapid heartbeat with a subnormal temperature, and dark, chocolate-colored blood. Death occurs soon after the symptoms appear. Do not use for corn meal products to be consumed by humans!

  3. Karl Hayden permalink
    August 9, 2012 7:43 am

    While I don’t know all the high level interests, although I have some superficial knowledge. I do know my friends and neighbors. I have several friends that work at ethanol plants, and my neighbor has 90 milk cows. He feeds his hay and pasture grass, but even his hay price is going up, because the guys that buy corn are now buying hay. The ethanol guys are having a hard time getting feed stock, but there demand is the same. Fortunately my neighbor puts up some of his own hay, and if the winter isn’t bad again he can save some money. I agree that in actual public interest is almost entirely been supplanted by various special interests that have money to throw at what they want done. I think we will just continue down various dead end paths until we absolutely have to change, and it will be much a more painful transition than it should have been.

    • August 9, 2012 12:00 pm

      Mornings I am helping set up a huge book sale that will take place at our local art museum in about 10 days. Today we tan across a copy of “An Inconvenient Truth” and we volunteers had a lively discussion how people hate to make changes until it is forced upon them.

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