Green Agriculture | July 18, 2008 |
Bush Administration Eyes Undeveloped Farmland
In the heartlands of America, arguably the most consistently productive farmland in the world, millions of acres of land lies idle and unfarmed. With rising crop prices and increased use of biofuels, pressure is high to increase American agricultural production. These market forces are all the more prevalent in the light of the massive flooding that struck the midwest earlier this summer.
The Bush Administration is currently considering putting these unfarmed lands, called CRP lands after the Conservation Reserve Program that has set them aside, back into production to meet these new economic pressures. But conservation groups have objected to the program, saying the idle lands perform a valuable ecological and economic role maintaining biodiversity, preventing crop erosion, and slowing fertilizer run off.
With record inflation squeezing both farmers and consumers, I can easily empathize with the desire to reduce food prices and increase food production as soon as possible. But breaking into sensitive CLD lands risks the long-term viability of American farmlands. What good does it do us to increase production today at the cost of production tomorrow, when demand will likely be higher?