Far too many well-heeled environmentalists, advocates for the poor and, yes, politicians must think that money grows on trees at the farm. They must also think food grows in mega-boxes the likes of WalMart, Whole Foods and Wegmans.
That’s the only explanation for the mindless push for tougher farm labor laws in New York State and still more oppressive enforcement efforts in the Chesapeake Bay clean up. This is happening while most American’s are struggling to keep their businesses afloat or trying to keep their families fed and clothed.
Yet, the well-paid class of attorneys, lobbyists, corporate executives and, yes, politicians wield their affluent influence while ignoring the stark realities faced by more ordinary taxpayers – farmers included.
Here, in part one, I offer just one of many national cases to the point. Part two, which you can also click on, illustrates the same disconnected mentality that would drive New York agriculture toward the same desperate survival struggle now going on in California.
Polluting Chesapeake Bay clean-up efforts
Environmental groups surrounding the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed are rallying behind an Obama Administration Executive Order mandating that federal agencies to enforce far tougher conservation restrictions, animal confinement regulations, environmental regulations and water quality regulations. As they would have it, a cow couldn’t even “toot”.
Federal courts now mandate that all Chesapeake Bay watershed states have a plan by year-end showing how they’re going to stay under their pollution cap. That’s not all. Maryland Senator Ben Cardin and Representative Elijah Cummings have the Chesapeake Clean Water and Ecosystem Restoration Act floating in Congress.
“Unfortunately, no member of the Pennsylvania delegation has agreed to co-sponsor this legislation, yet,” laments Jan Jarrett, president of Penn Future, a non-profit advocacy group with more lawyers, money and assets than most small businesses. “It would provide $1.5 billion in funding and technical assistance to farmers and municipalities to meet the cleanup goals mandated under the court-ordered [total maximum daily load] pollution diet.
“The TMDL pollution diet is coming, and [the bill] will get the funding desperately needed to comply with the court’s order. Supporting the bill seems like a no-brainer to us.”
Fortunately, only a few Northeast urbanite congresspersons have signed on. Many more “no-brainers” must be wondering what tree that $1.5 billion is growing on. But the reality is: Needed municipal pollution upgrades in Baltimore or Washington, D.C., alone, would suck up most of it.
What's really happening
While the Obama Administration, Jarrett, Cardin, Cummings and others want top-down autocratic control, they’ve ignored and stripped away bottom-up, grass roots efforts. This week, leaders of the National Association of Conservation Districts were in Washington, begging Congress to continue funding the technologies and conservation district technicians to help landowners implement appropriate conservation land practices. Major cuts in last year’s fiscal budget killed many cost-share projects and put conservation technicians on the unemployment line.
Good or bad, environmental changes don’t happen over night. Clean-up of the Chesapeake headwaters has been underway for almost a quarter-century, led by voluntary efforts of thousands of farmers and with the help of local technical help.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently credited Maryland farmers, alone, spent more than $12.25 million of their own money to match $98 million in state and federal funds. He added that on-farm efforts account for 67% of the 2.5 million pounds of nitrogen in the state’s 2011 Chesapeake Bay goal.
Last month, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission reported substantial long-term declines of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment loads in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania streams.
Priority #1: Restore reality and common sense
Who’s responsible for balancing fiscal responsibility with economic and environmental reality of these issues? You know who.
Prevalent thinking seems to deny common sense. Then again, so does much of what’s happening in government these days. It’s time to fix that – again!
That’s what the 1780s’ Shays’ Rebellion was about. It was an armed uprising mostly by poor Northeast farmers angered over crushing debt and taxes forced on them by the landed gentry. (Sound familiar?) That confrontation ultimately led to the writing of the U.S. Constitution.
It’s enough to make you join the Tea Party movement – before we reach the brink of an Americanized “French Revolution”.
Easy on the pitchforks, though. Use them only to hold signs.
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