For over four decades, an annual event called Earth Day has been held in late April across the United States, which has been a time for all U.S. citizens to reflect on our country’s environmental resources, and what we can do individually and as communities to help enhance our environment for the next generation. In recent years, it has become fashionable to point the finger of blame at agriculture and farmers for many environmental issues. However, in reality farmers have been some of the best environmental stewards in the U.S. in the past couple of decades.
The environmental advancements in agriculture production in recent decades has been accomplished with a relatively small investment of federal tax dollars through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and other programs. There have also been numerous State and local farm-related conservation and environmental initiatives through Soil and Water Conservation Districts, wildlife organizations, and other initiatives, all of which have been heavily supported by farmers.
Consider the following environmental facts about U.S. agriculture and the CRP program:
Following is some information from recent research authorized by the National Pork Board:
The research compared the carbon footprint and resource use of the U.S. swine production from 1959 to 2009, and found that modern pork production has the following environmental advantages:
There is still a lot to be accomplished to manage potential water quality, global warming and other environmental issues; however, we can rest assured that the agriculture industry will do their part to find solutions. Much of the recent environmental focus related to agriculture has been on improving water quality through reductions in soil erosion and agricultural runoff, including extreme measures that would greatly restrict agricultural drainage. Properly designed ag drainage and tiling systems are critical to maintaining optimum productivity on much of the nation’s highest quality farm land, so the key is to find a proper balance between the goals and objectives of all parties that are involved. Agriculture research and science will continue to look at new and innovative ways to better manage nutrients and reduce soil erosion, while enhancing production to feed an ever-increasing World population.