Letter to the Editor: History's lesson
BY Phil Hoey, Tulsa
Friday, November 23, 2012
11/23/12 at 3:06 AM
In Ken Burns' new documentary, "The Dust Bowl," which I had the privilege to preview on Nov. 12 at the OSU Tulsa Campus, Burns shows us how the Dust Bowl was entirely preventable.
The timing of this documentary is amazing since Oklahoma is currently in a severe drought cycle and just recently experienced a dust storm which was felt as far as Arkansas and that caused a pile-up on I-35. The Dust Bowl documentary shows us the mistakes of the past and reminds us that the two best ways to prevent soil erosion during drought conditions are having healthy, resilient soil and abundant wetlands.
The Farm Bill has long been a vehicle for promoting soil conservation and smart land management. Through "conservation compliance," the Farm Bill has maintained a covenant between farmers and taxpayers, saying that where public money is invested (government crop insurance), farmers will implement measures to minimize erosion on their most erosion-prone fields and refrain from draining wetlands. Conservation compliance has been credited with achieving hundreds of millions of tons of soil erosion reduction.
Unfortunately, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., who chairs the House Committee on Agriculture, chose not to re-link conservation compliance to crop insurance in his version of the Farm Bill.
We must not let the new version of the Farm Bill become a vehicle for subsidizing dangerous and shortsighted farming practices. History has shown that shortsighted decision-making leads to a path of destruction. Let us not repeat the mistakes of the past.
Editor's note: Hoey is a board member of the Conservation Coalition of Oklahoma.
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