The Wrong Farm Policy Means We Starve

It's time to get serious about protecting farms' topsoil. (Photo: Andrew Stawarz [CC by ND-2.0]/Flickr)

America needs a smart 50-year farm plan.

There was a great Op-Ed at the New York Times early this month that laid out the case for the need for a long-term ag bill.

For the past 60 years or so, the United States has embraced agricultural polices that sacrifice taste, soil conservation and nutritional value to the altar of sheer output. The best farmer is the farmer who grows the most, not necessarily the best, food. Farmers don't worry about the health of the soil, they just use more chemically derived fertilizers and pesticides.

America has lost half of its topsoil since the Great Plains were first farmed in the late 1800s. We lose billions of tons more each year to wind and water. It takes about 100 years to create an inch of topsoil, meaning it only takes one good rainstorm to take out a century's work. And once it's gone, it's gone for good.

We can't eat money. If we lose the topsoil, we starve to death.

President Obama needs to apply a big dose of wisdom and long-term vision to craft a sane and sustainable farm plan that looks to the long-term health and viability of the land. Topsoil is the gold in our food bank, and we have no backup reserve. We need to start seeing our farmlands for the irreplaceable and precious assets that they are and craft our agricultural politics to match.

Make sure to read the whole piece over at the NYT. Topsoil isn't sexy, but it needs to be on all of our radar.