Farmers are responsible for supplying the American public with the majority of the food we eat. But that does not come without cost. Many farms experience problems with climate conditions, fragile crops, and not enough farmland to rotate crops, as well as fighting enormous pesticide populations. According to environmentalists, the tools that farmers use to maximize their yield is affecting the waterways and landscapes near the farming communities and beyond.
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Even with environmental proof from sampling, farmers are fighting against regulations to curb the use of farming aids. The biggest offender to our environment appears to be manure and fertilizer. There are by-products of many farms leaking into ground soil and contaminating rivers and lakes.
The Midwest appears to fare the worst from either nitrate-infiltrated waterways, which make drinking water unsafe, or phosphorus, which is increasing the algae in river ways to toxic proportions. The farms are impacting the environment to the point that people are alleging sickness, both in adjacent neighborhoods and other cities nearby.
Many of the beaches that people used to flock to for vacations have been closed down due to toxic levels of bacteria, which environmentalists believe is due to the products used on farms. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. The toxicity of the environment that flows from farming doesn’t have to interrupt the environment. It is totally preventable. Farmers can plant “cover crops” to help to absorb the nitrate balance before it can make its way to nearby waterways and streams.
Other tactics that they can employ to make a huge difference is using “filter strips,” which are wide grassy plants at the base of the banks of streams to prevent nitrates from contaminating the water. They can also use underground pipes to drain the nitrates into the wetlands located nearby, where the nitrates won’t cause a problem for ground water or neighboring communities.
The Clean Water Act was an excellent way to make factories clean up their practices and to reduce their environmental footprint, but that was enacted nearly 40 years ago; with so much being learned since, it makes sense that new regulations need to be in place.
That doesn’t mean that farmers can’t still be profitable, nor does it mean that they have to decrease their yield or invest in costly environmental impact prevention tin knocker tools. It might just be that they have to use new technologies and scientific discoveries to better maintain the impact they have on the environment through small and incremental changes.
For obvious reasons, farmers are fighting against any further regulations. They are already having a hard time profiting due to government rules and regulations, as well as conglomerates underpricing the market; asking them to make further sacrifice either in time or more money being spent on changes is not something that many of them feel they can afford and remain in existence.
The Clean Water Rule proposed by the Obama Administration was met with opposition. The rule defined wetlands or streams as waters of the US for the first time, which meant that farms that have existed for years would no longer be “farms near water streams” but would become “farms near waters of the US,” which would carry much greater restrictions and regulations for farmers. Relating back to the Clean Water Act, it would unnecessarily put hefty rules on farmers.
The Trump Administration understands that the new definition will put many farmers out of business, and they want to take another look at the rule because they believe it isn’t a good idea. With a “less regulation is better” mentality, the Trump Administration is likely not going to be as much on the side of environmental groups as America saw with the Obama administration.
On the whole, farmers work very hard to limit the environmental impact that they have both in their specific region and around the world. They fight with reason against unfair legislation and rules that will put undue financial and yield restraints on their industry. With many barely turning a profit and fighting hard already to exist in a very competitive market, any further restraints could have potential fallout for many.
There aren’t many who would argue that measures shouldn’t be taken to protect waterways, streams, and rivers around the nation. The way to tackle the environmental impact, however, isn’t always about more regulation and rules. Sometimes it is about better innovation and helping the little guy out so that they can survive and thrive without anyone or anything being sacrificed, including the environment.