March 16, 2008

Food- Environmental Defense Part I

The Environmental Defense is a multidisciplinary organization that makes recommendations concerning the environment based off of scientific and market analysis. They are “finding the ways that work” in a number of areas including farming and food policies.

Why Listen to the Environmental Defense's Recommendations on Food Policy?
Policies concerning food and farm affect a number of people including consumers, farmers, ranchers, taxpayers, trade and the environment. This is because it shapes the use of energy, fuel, water and land for production while impacting trade and taxes for competitive distribution. Over half of America is managed by farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners, however the interest in health food and positive environmental choices is difficult to sustain on farms and ranches due to the lack of government incentives and subsidies. The dynamic research that the Environmental Defense complied lead to logical recommendations to address these issues.

Though directed specifically to food production, the policies extend past their immediate realm due to their impact on public health, the environment, trade and energy. By improving this system, many others will benefit.

Though a local issue, the federal government is the main player for the implementation of policy.In 2007, Congressed had a chance to reinvigorate its Farm Bill, where the two houses are now consolidating their own versions.

The Environmental Defense has twelve recommendations for farm and food policy. Below are the first six.

1. Help more farmers and rural communities:
The main goal would be to help farmers with economic independence by promoting innovation and environmental responsibility. Currently, farm subsides are only given to a handful farmers, thus creating funds for conservation and energy could benefit all producers. Furthermore, developing conservation, renewable energy, and rural development programs would be beneficial in addition to creating an account system which could help with rural business ventures and planning for the future.

2. Reward-don’t reject-good stewards:
The activities of producers greatly affects the environment, however many farms and ranches are a sources of water pollution with fertilizers and air pollution from animal waste. Many are addressing these problems, but are having problems acquiring government funding. USDA conservation spending should increase from 4 to 7 billion in addition to reforming the farm subsidies program. Air pollution is a particular problem, where the Environmental Quality Incentives Program should be improved by reserving funds to help regions of farmer with air pollution. If farms and ranches manage their waste better with the help of USDA, public and environmental health improves.

3. Invest in renewable energy with environmental benefits:

Individuals are interested in investing in renewable energy. With the amount of land involved in farming and ranching, an opportunity arises for the harnessing of wind and solar energy as well as energy from crop waste. Future USDA investments should help promote renewable energy.

4. Reward economic innovation, don’t create dependence

Farm Income Stabilization accounts should be adapted for they would promote innovation and economic independence of producers. It would help create new markets and investments in food production. The farmers’ market should be expanded by improving the next Farm Bill to link customer to farmer.

5. Reward rising levels of stewardship:

In 2002, the Conservation Security Program (CSP) was created to support high levels of environmental performance by producers. This should continue and also be made available to all farmers who meet the standard. Improvements could also be accomplished by balancing the reward between past and future accomplishments. Environmental stewardship could also be linked to income support as an incentive to create sustainable practices. Spending for the 2007 Farm Bill should increase from 4 to 7 billion, where extra would go toward air and water quality stewardship incentives as well as wildlife and wetland restoration.

6. Help farmers get ready for a carbon cap
Farmers should be prepared for carbon markets for they are beneficial to power plant owners, the environment and producers. This can be achieved by developing standards and protocols to certify emissions reductions and its worth. In order to help farmers be more prosperous in this market, policies should be developed to help improve tillage, fertilizer use, and methane capture.

Environmental Defense:

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