The Washington Post reports that an alarming “dead zone” is growing in the Chesapeake Bay because of unusually high nutrient levels this year. No kidding it’s being called alarming!
For as long as I can remember alarms have sounded about nutrient pollution associated with runoff into the Bay. Unfortunately, no one has paid much attention. Now officials in Virginia and Maryland are saying that this year the area of “dead zone” is on track to be the Bay’s largest in history.
We’ve pushed the “Fast Forward” button in the effort to kill the Chesapeake Bay and I have to wonder why. How much more needs to happen before we put a stop to the continuous bad behaviors that significantly contribute to the killing of the Bay?
Protectionism of Big Ag is a major culprit. It’s not the farmers, as we know farmers, it’s the powerful and tremendously wealthy lobbying associations of the major corporate players of food production and it’s no secret. Will Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has finally put a foot forward, after years of handling Big Chicken with kid gloves, and specifically said that we need to look at the amount of money that Washington lobbying associations “have given to candidates and lobbying, it’s in the hundreds of millions.”
Baker says that it’s “not mom and pop farmers” and the American Farm Bureau Federation’s director of energy and policy, Paul Schlegal, second’s that saying that “farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed take a backseat to no one in their commitment to helping to clean up the bay”. This is where it gets confusing for ordinary folks.
If it’s not the farmers who are wantonly polluting and killing the bay with nitrogen and phosphorous runoff, who is it? The farm has been the scapegoat for decades because it’s the end of the line for Big Ag. Intensified, concentrated animal feeding operations to raise our nation’s meat and poultry has become the major player of production and if farmers want to remain on the farm this is the choice that they have. Unless a farmer raises animals according to the dictates of corporations there are not many who are able to stay on the farm. Period!
The dictates by Big Ag have turned farming into industrial sized production cramming animals into confined buildings on as little land as possible without thought as to how the land will safely handle all of the manure produced. It’s not about feeding people it’s about lining the coffers, and pockets, of a handful of select corporations who control our nation’s food supply.
The madness of the vicious circle we are entrapped in positively indicates that we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye. The land can only handle a certain amount of animal production before runoff from manure causes major problems in our streams, rivers, and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.
Studies, plans, initiatives, and nutrient reduction goals are continuously conducted, set, and not met. Every year increase in animal production occurs regardless of the fact that nutrient levels must be reduced. What does it take for our illustrious politician to understand that increased animal production means increased amounts of manure leading to more runoff?
It’s become a joke where EPA is easily blamed and lawsuits from both sides of the issue are thrown at the agency. The environmental side sues EPA for having weak anti-pollution measures. When the agency set forth a “pollution diet” last December to dramatically reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment that states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed can allow in the Bay from municipalities and farms, the Farm Bureau sues EPA to stop the plan from going forward. A damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation for EPA!
Meanwhile, the Chesapeake Bay continues to die. As a taxpaying citizen who still doesn’t know what the additional environmental portion of my county taxes go to I have to say that I don’t appreciate my hard earned money going to the support of environmental initiatives that are not working. I expect results not failures!
In addition, I want answers. The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and I want to know who gave anyone the right to play stupid manipulative games all the while degrading something that belongs to all of us. That’s right, the Chesapeake Bay is there for everyone to enjoy not just for the whims of a select greedy few.
Farm Bureau says that their lawsuit is not about the quality of water in the Chesapeake Bay it’s about the confines of what EPA can or can’t do based on laws our illustrious politicians have written. I think that says it all. Big Ag with its powerful lobby machine has influenced the laws crippling the very agency within our government that is supposedly there to protect OUR water.
When will we, the American citizen, be afforded some protectionism?