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posted in: General

November 19, 2012

Federal Farm Policy Writing Script for New Dust Bowl

Public Domain Photo.

Ken Burns new documentary, “The Dust Bowl,” depicts a full-blown ecological disaster, the likes of which never had been seen in America.

The dust storms that swept across Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and other Great Plains states in the late 1920s and early 1930s were largely caused by the combination of drought and high winds on a landscape that had seen the near total conversion of native grasslands and wetlands to row crop production.

As I write this, similar conversions of native grasslands and wetlands are occurring alarmingly quickly. I have to wonder: Is federal farm policy helping write the script for a new Dust Bowl?

In the last several years, crop prices have steadily increased. As many of you know, corn and soybean prices hit a record high this summer. These high crop prices create immense pressure to convert marginally productive grasslands, wetlands and forestlands to row crops.

Federal crop insurance policy removes much of the risk associated with converting these marginal acres. Unlike every other federal farm program, crop insurance does not require farmers to be “conservation compliant.” This means that crop insurance benefits can be maintained even when farmers convert ecologically valuable wetlands, grasslands and till highly erodible lands.

How do we stop history from repeating itself? By passing a strong federal Farm Bill that includes measures addressing conservation compliance.

I can only hope that the black-and-white images of families living inside dusty houses with potato sacks over their heads will capture the attention of our elected officials tasked as they work toward passing the next farm bill. Or maybe the testimony of beautiful, old, wise faces telling of their parents’ mental breakdowns from the devastation catch the eye of members of the House Committee on Agriculture.

We can’t afford to let history repeat itself this time. Contact your member of Congress and ask him or her to take action on the Farm Bill and make sure that the conservation programs that have helped to prevent environmental calamities like the Dust Bowl are strengthened.

President of Sundog, Inc., a business development firm based in Fayetteville, Ark., that focuses on agriculture, alternative energy and green products, Tim Kizer is also the private lands field representative for the TRCP.


2 Responses to “Federal Farm Policy Writing Script for New Dust Bowl”

  1. Mark Herwig, White Bear Lake, Minnesota

    I watched the program last night too and will view the closing episode tonight. It was most interesting when the show reported how high wheat prices in the 20s and early 30s drove a huge plow up and planting of the praire (and more plowing when prices dropped to make up for lower income)…….and then how an inevitable western drought hit and ruined the land, the people and wildlife. It is disturbing to see the exact same thing is happening now. Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them….only now the stakes are much higher with a much larger population, 7 billion and counting. Such demands on the land are not sustainable.

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posted in: General

November 9, 2012

United We Stand: A Serviceman Reflects on Freedom, Family and the Outdoors

Sometimes you have to leave something behind to truly appreciate it.

I find I relearn that lesson each time I deploy to a foreign land. I miss my family and friends the most, as is expected. Thanks to technology I receive emails from home, discussing everything from kids to the change in seasons and excursions into the woods to hunt. I am grateful for these snippets of daily life because they make me appreciate how much freedom we have.

This Veterans Day, I am deployed once again on foreign soil in support of our national interests. I am proud to serve, but at the same time, I am thinking of home and longing to be with family.

Lieutenant Colonel G. Brent Cummings with his dog Tucker after a hunt for lesser prairie chicken in Kansas.

An image that comes to my mind when I think about home is stepping out into the cold morning with my loyal black Lab. I watch him excitedly chase some type of feathered creature that always seems to land just out of range or flush just a bit too low for a safe shot.

I can taste and feel the bite of cold as I take a deep breath and enjoy the fellowship of the hunt with a close friend as we map out the best strategy to move through a field or drop out decoys. So often we know our grand plan will fail, but simply being outside is the magic that makes the day.

Those memories represent the opportunity to share the moment outside, in a free country surrounded with the beauty of a magnificent landscape. Being deployed reminds me again how special that freedom is.

Enjoy Veterans Day and the freedom it represents. I support organizations such as the TRCP and other like-minded conservation groups. They are our guardians back home while we guard from afar. Because of their efforts, when I come home I have a place to hunt and fish. I encourage you to take the time to call your brother-in-law, uncle, friend or whoever you like to hunt with, and head out. Don’t worry whether you bag some game or not. Just enjoy the day afield and the freedom that has been earned.

I want to acknowledge how deeply grateful I am for the men and women who have served before me and laid the groundwork of freedom upon which I currently stand. Without their stewardship and professionalism, I wouldn’t have the freedom I cherish and expect as a U.S. citizen. In honor of Veterans Day, I encourage you to step outside with a friend or a family member and enjoy the freedom that has been granted to each of us.

Lieutenant Colonel G. Brent Cummings

United States, Army

Beginning in 2007, Lt. Col. Cummings served nearly 15 months in Iraq as part of the 2nd Surge Brigade with the 216th Infantry Brigade.  He then served as Commander of as the U.S. Army Airborne School at Ft. Benning.  He is currently deployed in the Middle East.

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posted in: General

November 7, 2012

Wednesday Win: Caption Contest

For this week’s “Wednesday Win” we’re holding a caption contest for the photo below. Leave a comment and we’ll pick our favorite on Friday, Nov. 9. The winner will receive a TRCP camo hat.

Photo by Tom Franklin
Whit Fosburgh

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posted in: General

November 5, 2012

Cast your Vote.

Get informed and be sure to cast your vote. Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

Voting can be summarized in a simple statement: if you don’t participate in the process, don’t complain about the results.

When the 2012 election season draws to an end tomorrow night, most of the attention will focus on the results of the presidential election – but sportsmen and –women should care about the races all the way down the ticket. From local bond measures and city council races to higher profile races for the House and Senate, elections matter. So get informed and be sure to cast your vote tomorrow.

Come Wednesday, don’t just sit on the sidelines until the next election. Remain informed about the decisions our elected officials make that impact fish and wildlife habitat and our ability to enjoy our natural resources well into the future. Pay attention to their promises and hold their feet to the fire to ensure they follow through on those promises.

If you care about conservation, the importance of well-managed fish and wildlife and your rights to keep and use firearms, don’t assume that someone else will take care of things for you. Participatory democracy works best when people engage, do their homework and make their voices heard in clear and thoughtful ways.

In the weeks and months ahead, we will write often about the challenges and opportunities facing sportsmen as a result of the elections tomorrow. In the meantime, I hope you, your family members and all your friends will exercise our right to vote and make your voices heard.

 

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posted in: General

October 24, 2012

Wednesday Win: Post an Opening Day Photo

At the TRCP, we work hard so we can play hard, and when opening day rolls around it’s like Christmas for our staff.

For this week’s Wednesday Win, we’re giving away a hand-tied, commemorative Bully Bugger to the individual who posts a picture of their opening day outing on the TRCP Facebook page and gets the most likes by next Wednesday. Here are some photos of TRCP staff from various opening days in their respective states.

 

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