|corn field stubble and abandoned buildings|
Photo by J. Harrington
The reduction in green house gases is impressive as a percentage. How much dairy and meat contribute to our overall production of GHGs is in the midst of a current "conversation." I'm curious about the water quality impacts of the 2,100 head operation compared to what might result from 200 or so smaller dairy farms. There's apparently also a lot of questions about the cost and availability of non-GMO dairy feed. It seems to me that looking at sustainable and/or resilient and local (we can talk about that later) food systems probably involves much more complex trade-offs than I've envisioned, read about or thought about. One of the reasons for that is that there are not enough conversations and interviews with real farmers. Dennis Anderson's column yesterday in the Star Tribune added some insight with the observation that "no till" requires less fossil fuel consumption than "conservation tillage." There's also a fascinating article in the current issue of Orion about the carbon capture potential of agricultural soils. Are we still best served with agricultural policies and farm bills that emphasize "cheap food" and commodity crops or do we need and want even more emphasis on the successful development of local food systems that provide healthy food with minimal environmental impacts? Are our legislators listening to us and our local farmers or just to the major agri-businesses of the world? How do we improve our conversations between our urban and rural food producers and those of us who represent their "markets?" What do we really want our local food systems to produce?
"Marie Audet and her family are at the forefront of dairy farming in Vermont. They operate a progressive, multi-generation farm with over 2,100 head. Blue Spruce Farm collects the methane gas from the farm ans [sic] is used to power generators that push enough electricity onto the grid for 300+ homes."
The FarmerBy W.D. Ehrhart
Each day I go into the fieldsto see what is growingand what remains to be done.It is always the same thing: nothingis growing, everything needs to be done.Plow, harrow, disc, water, praytill my bones ache and hands rubblood-raw with honest labor—all that grows is the slowintransigent intensity of need.I have sown my seed on soilguaranteed by poverty to fail.But I don’t complain—exceptto passersby who ask me whyI work such barren earth.They would not understand meif I stooped to lift a rockand hold it like a child, or laughed,or told them it is their povertyI labor to relieve. For them,I complain. A farmer of dreamsknows how to pretend. A farmer of dreamsknows what it means to be patient.Each day I go into the fields.
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