Just because US news these days are consumed with polls and predictions for primaries, doesn't mean AGua has nothing to say! Today is the first primary, and it's in Iowa. So I wanted to pass along a great perspective piece from the Union of Concerned Scientists about how we can reform agricultural policy (especially crop insurance) to save farmers money, protect the environment, and re-build soil health.
Their main argument is that the state of Iowa is farmed homogeneously but is underlain by a diversity of soils, some of which are not suited to corn monoculture production. Large regions of Iowa are farmed in this way but are actually costing more to the farmer than he or she is earning in the end. This seemingly unsustainable business model is perpetuated through crop insurance, which incentivizes high input, monoculture corn. How can we get ourselves out of this mess? Changes to the crop insurance policy (which is necessary to help farmers stay afloat after weather-related crop failures) to incentivize farmers to plant perennial crops in low-quality soils or enroll the land in the conservation reserve program and other programs. The aim is to build back soil quality and save money on expensive seeds and inputs that are not profiting the farmer and causing pollution. Read the whole article here: "Dear Future President: Be a Hero, Replace Perennial Problems with Perennial Solutions" by Marcia DeLonge.