This year marks the 75th year of soil and water conservation in the United States, founded on the heels of the Dust Bowl era in the midwest and southern plains. NC Ag commissioner Steve Troxler says there’s something that most North Carolinians don’t realize about modern soil and water conservation:
“The father of this was Hugh Hammond Bennett who actually grew up in Anson County, and started this movement. Most North Carolinians don’t even realize that.”
And a few things have changed regarding soil and water conservation since 1937:
“Well, they have changed, when Hugh Hammond Bennett began talking about his message across the country, we were in the midst of the Dust Bowl, and we had topsoil being blown away regularly, and we had soil being washed away with heavy rains. One thing that I know as a farmer is that good soil makes a good farmer and we need to look after it.”
While soil and water conservation are generally considered ‘rural issues’, Troxler says urban areas are involved as well:
“You know, we have realized over the years that there are also urban needs when it comes to conservation, and we’re trying to help urban areas meet some of the challenges that they need. Working with homeowner associations to better manage storm water run-off and they're looking for opportunities for energy credits and so you know there’s a lot of things that we do.”
Monsanto Foundation to Support Rural Schools
Statistics show that the United States ranks only 25th in math scores and 21st in science compared to 30 industrialized nations. These facts show that education is strongly in need of support. To help, Monsanto Fund, the philanthropic arm of Monsanto Company, is launching America's Farmers Grow Rural Education to aid rural school districts by providing $10,000 and $25,000 grants in 1,245 counties across 39 states. The Monsanto Fund will award 199 grants this year.
Ag Underappreciated by the Public
The American Farm Bureau Annual Convention got underway over the weekend in Hawaii. The president of the largest U.S. farm organization says farmers and ranchers are more productive than ever – but aren’t getting the credit they’re due.
Playing off the Occupy Wall Street movement and its contention that the richest one-percent in society owe everyone else, Bob Stallman of the American Farm Bureau Federation reminded AFBF convention-goers that:
“We are the one percent that are producing food and fiber for the other 99 percent and our success makes everything else in our great nation possible, including the pitching of tents and the shouting of protest slogans.”
In his opening address, Stallman asserted that US agriculture is the envy of the world, noting that farm productivity here has increased by nearly 50% during the past three decades:
"We know that our nation's tight budget constraints will likely dictate how much of a role the government will play in providing a safety net for farmers and ranchers. You know that the business of farming has always been risky, it always will be. But we firmly believe farmers pocess the skills to navigate the typical ups and downs of business cycles."