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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Call Johnson and Thune: Save Our Sod

An alert Lake Herman directs our attention to Tony Dean's commentary on the front of the Sports section of today's Sioux Falls paper. Dean warns us that the farm bill before the Senate has some pretty weak conservation measures, particularly with respect to "Sodsaver," measures protecting native prairie and forage land for livestock [Tony Dean, "Senators Lose Interest in Sodsaver," that Sioux Falls paper, 2007.11.07].

The ethanol frenzy may be driving a push to plant every available ditch and waterway to corn. But remember:

  1. acres of corn planted this year: 87 million
  2. acres of corn req'd to fulfill current energy needs: 725 million (total current corn acreage divided by 12%, the percentage of US motoring fuel demand current corn production could meet if it were all turned to ethanol)
  3. acres in US: 2.26 billion
  4. percentage of US acres that you can actually farm: 18.01%
  5. acres in US available for farming: 408 million.

If you really want to plow under every wildlife preserve where flourishes our winged cash crop, the wiley pheasant; if you really want to plow every grassy waterway that keeps silt, manure, fertilizer, and other contaminants from filling our lakes and turning them green and brown; if you really want to see a corn-planting frenzy that will turn South Dakota into Saudi Arabia in more ways than one; if you really want nothing but corn and combines in South Dakota, then sit still.

But if you appreciate a more balanced approach to industry and environment, if you recognize that conservation is the foundation of a viable future for South Dakota farmers, and if you like shooting pheasants (and making $100 million dollars every autumn from the other folks who do) call Senators Thune (605-334-9596) and Johnson (605-332-8896) today and tell them to whip that farm bill back into shape for someone other than Big Ethanol.

As Dean points out, Thune's on the ag committee, while Johnson is on Appropriations. They both should have the pull to improve the farm bill's protection of our land. They just might need a gentle reminder from the folks who vote for them.


  1. I would think Lake Herman would be more concerned about the water than the sod. Nice to see that even those who teach also make mistakes.

  2. Oh, now I see it. Oops! :-)

  3. Were our dear Lake Herman able to speak (and she does sing to the hearts of her truest lovers), she would agree: call the Senators, protect the sod, and keep all the silt, fertilizer, and cow poop out of her tranquil waters!


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