Daily Scold–The Farm Report

June 10, 2008 by Cassandra

A series of recent news stories suggest more doom ahead.

First of all, there’s the news from the midwest.

Floods here, extreme heat there. Too much rain, so the corn develops shallow roots that will help it all fry when the summer heat hits. That sort of thing. And this all because of “freak”–Is this the corporate news code word for climate change?–weather.

Reading about failing crops was bad enough, but then there’s this headline:

“UN Chief Calls for 50 Percent Increase in Food Output.”

Yup. we’re likely to have a down year for corn and other crops in the USA, so I guess that means the rest of the world will have to eschew freak weather and really ramp up their production. Heads up, no more cyclones, Myanmar! Heed the words of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Food and Agriculture headquarters in Rome:

“Food production needs to rise by 50 percent by the year 2030 to meet the rising demand.”

Of course, “needs to” doesn’t mean food production actually will increase. Even if the weather suddenly reverts to blissful normality, there are a few little problems in the US like mono-culture crops susceptible to, oh, wheat viruses and such. And then there’s the little problem of price and availability of the fossil fuels necessary to run farm equipment and make fertilizers and pesticides.

While frothing about all this, I ran across this coverage of that same UN ag meeting in Rome. This comes from Bangladesh’s New Nation :

The UN Country Director expressed his satisfaction after observing the lifestyle and rearing of heads of cattle at almost all households in the area and appreciated the laborious people of Panchagarh district. He also suggested the farmers to increase production of huge quantities of green vegetables, potato, maize, wheat and other crops side-by-side with increasing production of hybrid variety paddy to meet food crisis by locally produced food grains in the country.

Localization and local flavor of language. Nice.

Of course, localization and sustainable agricultural practices mean lower yields. That’s not going to help reach that 50 percent increase in food production. Good thing the oceans aren’t rising and removing land from production, isn’t it?

Sigh.

Cassandra

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4 Responses to “Daily Scold–The Farm Report”

  1. uncommonscolds Says:

    Jeremiah just sent me a highly pertinent article from the business section of the June 10, 2008 New York Times “Worries Mount as Farmers Push for Big Harvest”:

    This’s a good one to contemplate. A major problem for many civilized people is grasping the concept that nature–good, bad, indifferent, or globally warmed–is not dependent on us; we humans are dependent on it.

    Cassandra

  2. uncommonscolds Says:

    Oops! I forgot to mention the depletion of fish. A 2006 journal article indicated a collapse of fishing stock by mid-century. Of course, I’m sure we’re ahead of schedule by now.

    See the NYT article “Study Sees ‘Global Collapse’ of Fish Species” of Nov. 3, 2006.

    We need a 50 percent increase in food production. Maybe Soylent Green?

    Cassandra

  3. Jeremiah Says:

    I am reminded of a summary statement encapsulating the primary message of _In Defense of Food_, by Michael Pollan (Penguin Press, 2008) — to wit: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Hoping the plants hold out and grateful for the rebellious dandelions in my oh-so-politically-correct zeriscaped back yard (ummmm, salad), I commit to eschewing sea bass. Oh, wait, I already did that. Veal? Done. Farm-raised salmon? Yup. Praise the local Farmer’s Market and pass the greens. Jeremiah

  4. Jeremiah Says:

    Curious—why did the “8” in 2008 show up as a smiley face? And “xeriscape” is the proper spelling. Sincere apologies. J

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