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See the latest reader comments and hear John explain some of agriculture’s complex topics.
Viewers Respond to John's Mailbag Comments on EPA
Jun 13, 2014
***Editor’s Note: A recent segment from John Phipps focusing on the EPA and Farm runoff drew quite a bit of response. Below is a transcript of those comments, followed by viewer feedback:
EPA Mailbag Transcript: We heard from a fisherman near the Great Lakes concerning the upcoming EPA ruling. "Nitrogen runoff is the reason the government is asking farmers to create a larger buffer area between cultivated fields and any ditch, creek or watershed area on farms" - James Brancheau. James, thanks for writing and bringing a reminder of what the EPA action is primarily about. Right now in the farm media the dominant theme is perhaps best illustrated in the number of times the words "power grab" and "over-reach" are repeated in communications about the EPA. These anti-government code words are unhelpful to say the least. Farmers are deeply concerned about intrusive regulation of farm runoff because frankly if were held accountable for the quality of water leaving our farms, our Midwest cropping regime would be greatly changed. This is a complicated debate, and I will be devoting more time to explaining the issue and my views. Mr. Brancheau’s point is almost always ignored by defenders of the ag status quo. We are not addressing the problem; we’re fighting possible solutions. Farms have, in my opinion, imposed burdens on those who share our watersheds. Economists call these "externalities" – costs like pollution that are not borne by those who enjoy the benefits of the economic activity. I also believe most farmers at least suspect we are a dominant cause of nitrogen and phosphorus in our water.
Viewer Response #1: I am writing today because the main point as to why farmers should have a wider run off protection was the poison green algae that grows as the result if nitrogen run off. You see that is the reason for the regulation. There is no other reason there is just too much fertilizer get into our water ways and causing problems to maintain the clarity of our water. James Brancheau
Viewer Response #2: The cause of nitrogen in ground water is opinion, not fact. And saying that you agree with the speculation that, in essence, farmers are polluting the groundwater with nitrogen by merely irrigating their own crops simply lends credence to more regulation, the criminalization of business. The lawless EPA may end up abusing the Clean Water Act to stop us from farming just as they are abusing the Clean Air Act to stop reliable, reasonably priced electricity. James Adams
Viewer Response #3: Once again, John, very much right with your comments on the effects of water run-off from farms. Keep up the great work! We appreciate your level head and wide view of topics. Richard Fassino - Hailey, ID
Viewer Response #4: I occasionally catch, and enjoy, your show. I believe I detect a recurring theme in your comments. "The government giveth and the government taketh away" about gets it. From what I can tell lately the "giving" has been better than the "taking." So, if farmers think complaining about the government is going to get a lot of public sympathy....I don't think it's gonna happen. Joe P. Lane - Carthage, TN (age 71 and now merely an observer)
Viewer Response #5: Hey John, how about it. Maybe your buddies at EPA can construct some lie. Plus we don’t need more regulations so your EPA cohorts can fill their bureaucracies with more head count so they can manage the sinkhole on my Kentucky horse farm. What’s your kickback for defending them anyway? Darryl Leifheit