January 8, 2010

Farmland Skepticism

FROM- Joplin Independent

Is global warming a threat to agriculture?

Add USDA to anti-ag list

by Trent Loos

As we charge into 2010, those of us in agriculture have come to realize that we must deal with groups outside of agriculture that want to forever change the structure of food production and, in most cases, simply eliminate the production of meat, milk and eggs in this country.

Today, I am adding another group to the list of those working against the heart of agriculture. You may have heard of it: the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If you think that sounds extreme, allow me to explain by providing this excerpt of what Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, speaking at last month's "climate change" conference in Copenhagen, had to report:

"While climate change will affect us all, there are particular vulnerabilities
and challenges for farmers, ranchers and those who make a living off the land.
Higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent extreme events
like droughts and flooding threaten to reduce yields and increase the occurrence
of crop failure."

I vividly remember Vilsack when he was governor of Iowa. It was clear that agriculture was not his cup of tea. He also doesn't appear to be good at history either.

Forget about the 10,000-year-old models theorizing how extreme climate change has been over the history of the world. Let's just look at the past 234 years. The worst blizzards occurred before 1900, the worst hurricanes happened in 1900 and we called the decade of the 1930s the "dirty 30s" for a reason.

My point is that farmers and ranchers have always dealt with climate change. It has nothing to do with fossil fuels or carbon sequestration.

While in Copenhagen, Vilsack also announced that USDA was releasing a report titled "The Effects of Climate Change on U.S. Ecosystems" (written in 2008 but not released until Dec. 17, 2009). I felt compelled to read this report, mostly because it has a polar bear on the front cover. What? A polar bear?!

While I am always looking for diversity at my ranch, I thought maybe USDA was suggesting that I could start raising polar bears. Lord knows this would have been a good winter to get a herd started based on the weather we have already had in the Great Plains.

Anyway, this report suggests that global warming could have a negative effect on livestock. Warmer temperatures could reduce mortality in the winter, but hotter summers will reduce productivity and increase death loss. Excuse me. The U.S. produces more than 9 billion animals each year, and the majority are in concentrated animal feeding operations. That means they are in a totally controlled environment, which means that no matter how hot or cold it is outside, the dairy cow, turkey, chicken or pig is in a temperature-controlled building without experiencing effects from the weather.

Vilsack not only supports this global warming campaign but also rejected the advice of his own Chief Economist Joe Glauber, whose data indicate that the carbon program the government is hoping to implement is not beneficial or plausible for American farmers. Reportedly, Vilsack told Glauber to find a way to make it work.

I can walk through this USDA report page by page and illustrate the incorrect statements made about modern food production, but allow me to just highlight some of what is said.

The authors clearly state that there is no way to say whether humans had anything to do with climate change in the past, but "we need to change our farming practices" because we believe in our theory. In fact, on page 21, there is something that no one at USDA will likely include in their presentations to the media and the public. It reads:

"For the moment, there is no viable alternative to using the existing systems
for identifying climate change and its impact on U.S. agriculture, land
resources, water resources and biodiversity, even though these systems were not
originally designed for this purpose...The authors of this report also have very
limited confidence in the ability of current observation and monitoring systems
to provide the information needed to evaluate the effectiveness of actions taken
to mitigate or adapt to climate change impacts. Much of our understanding of the
direct effects of temperature, elevated (carbon dioxide), ozone, precipitation
and nitrogen deposition has come from manipulative experiments. Institutional
support for such experiments is a concern."

Yes, it appears that we now have a new group looking to forever change the production of food in the U.S. through the use of an agenda and carefully selected bits of partial information that support its mission. This U.S. Global Change Research Program is housed -- where else? -- but at 1717 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C., and is working with the Heinz Center to develop "observation and monitoring systems that are able to support their analyses that can aid this management challenge."

Doesn't that mean gathering only data that support their theory? I believe this may well be just another public relations stunt by the Obama Administration to scare the American public into believing that U.S. agriculture and food production are in jeopardy so they can implement massive legislative and regulatory changes. I, for one, am not buying it, and I will not budge off of my notion that global warming is the largest man-made hoax the world has ever seen.


Trent Loos is a sixth-generation farmer/rancher based in Loup City, NE. He is founder of Faces of Ag, a national organization with the mission of promoting agriculture through the fact-based information.


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