This month we examine a very wide-ranging Position Paper, the essence of which is to ensure food security for the United States. You can find it and its support report here.
We are primarily an exporting nation when it comes to food essentials; the heartland of our country supports extensive farming industries. But those industries may be threatened from a number of directions, some of which have only tenuous connections to farms themselves. For example, consider the plight of soy farmers, whose greatest exports have overwhelmingly been to China. With the current trade sanctions, their produce is left to rot while soy farmers from Australia and across Africa scoop up the contracts that American farmers have lost. In turn, this affects the corn supply, since growing corn depletes soils over time, whereas when corn and soy are grown in rotation, as they are in our country, the soy replenishes the soil nutrients that corn depletes. GCA acts on national security levels like this, especially through serious lobbying when it comes to the Farm Bill.
For the most part, however, GCA’s concerns are less with the prosperity of the exporting farm industry and more on the ability of American farms to provide for our future. Central to this is the health of soils. We all recall the history of the Dust Bowl, when soils were so depleted that they could no longer hold together, and our farmland lost much of its topsoil to the wind. Now we know that tillage of soil on a regular basis was responsible for that loss, and GCA supports no-till farming in all situations. Soil is, after all, teeming with life, and the microorganisms that make up the colonies that knit soil together enrich and strengthen the soil they live in constantly – but only when their colonies are allowed to flourish. At a household garden level, this is why we ought not turn over our soil at the end of tomato season: just cut off the tops of the plants and compost them. The same goes for all of our veggie beds – allow the soil to grow and enrich itself. A useful side effect, at a macroscopic level like industrial farming: soil sequesters carbon even better then trees do! If we stop tilling, our soil will hold that carbon and not release it into the atmosphere to exacerbate climate change.
That’s the sort of thing that GCA’s Position Papers delve into in depth. We suggest you may find them of interest also. You can find them here under the heading Sustainable Agriculture and Food. Find out why shade-grown coffee is so much more valuable than coffee plantations grown in full sun, for example. It’s an entertaining way to spend 15 minutes while you enjoy a cup!