"The extraordinary rainstorms last June caused catastrophic soil erosion in the grain lands of Iowa, where there were gullies 200 feet wide. But even worse damage is done over the long term under normal rainfall — by the little rills and sheets of erosion on incompletely covered or denuded cropland, and by various degradations resulting from industrial procedures and technologies alien to both agriculture and nature."-Yes, we did have a lot of rain in Iowa last summer (not just June) and it did cause a lot of soil erosion. I saw pictures from around the state of huge washouts, I drove over roads that lost half of themselves down stream, and I even saw little waterways on our completely grass covered farm grow in size. This loss of top soil is something I find myself thinking about a lot as I drive the seven miles into town for work and see bare fields on either side of the road.
"Civilizations have destroyed themselves by destroying their farmland. This irremediable loss, never enough noticed, has been made worse by the huge monocultures and continuous soil-exposure of the agriculture we now practice."-I think this is an interesting comment about civilizations destroying themselves by neglecting their topsoil. In fact I would go out on a limb and say one of the man reason that it hasn't destroyed our American civilization yet is because we have a lot more land than many earlier civilizations and because our Midwestern region had seemingly unending topsoil when we got there. But, all you have to do is look towards the Eastern part of our country and understand why many farmers in the 18th and 19th centuries were willing to live on the edge of the wilderness where they had to fear for their safety ... because the land was being used up in the East.
"Industrial agricultural has made our food supply entirely dependent on fossil fuels and, by substituting technological “solutions” for human work and care, has virtually destroyed the cultures of husbandry (imperfect as they may have been) once indigenous to family farms and farming neighborhoods."-The further we get into our farming journey the more I become keenly aware that we are destroying "the cultures of husbandry". Really the old adage that there is nothing new under the sun is completely true when it comes to farming. The thing is though that we have just about lost what really worked and so it seems like people are coming up with lots of "new" ideas for farm management. Remember ... grass-fed isn't new, organic isn't new, natural isn't new, and extensive crop rotations aren't new!
"And with an increase in the use of perennial plants and grazing animals would come more employment opportunities in agriculture — provided, of course, that farmers would be paid justly for their work and their goods."-This quote just really struck me because I often wonder how many people out there don't understand that many farmers/ranchers are underpaid for the work that they provide ... and I could even go so far as saying for the security they provide our country. I do like the possibility of increased employment opportunities in agriculture!
"We need a 50-year farm bill that addresses forthrightly the problems of soil loss and degradation, toxic pollution, fossil-fuel dependency and the destruction of rural communities."-Come on, do we really think we are willing to look that far into the future?
Of course there is a lot more that I could say, but I think this is enough for now. I do encourage you to go check out this short piece and report back with some of your thoughts. If nothing else it should make some good discussion.