If the American classic song is right and “this land was made for you and me,” then why are we paying to have it destroyed? This is the question presented in the video for the new Environmental Working Group (EWG) report, "Losing Ground."
EWG, working with Iowa State University, has found that erosion in Iowa is much worse than previously reported. In some regions, soil loss was found to be 12 times greater than the stated average, as storms stripped up to 64 tons of soil per acre of land.
The organization blames irresponsible farming practices for putting America’s land and water at risk. As the video says, pesticides, fertilizers, and manure run into water, which “renders our water undrinkable, our beaches unfit to swim in, and has created an area in the Gulf so contaminated that aquatic life has to flee or die.”
There is little incentive for farmers to stop erosion, and EWG places part of the blame on Washington. According to The New York Times, “Enforcement is needed more than ever, environmentalists say, because high crop prices provide a strong incentive for farmers to plant as much ground as possible and to take fewer protective measures like grass buffer strips.” As EWG states, while wealthy landowners receive taxpayer money, “the rest of us, and the environment, pay the price.”
According to the report, $51 billion is spent on boosting all-out production in farm states. Meanwhile, 97% of soil loss could be prevented with simple conservation measures. Effective practices include placing strips of grass or trees near the edge of crop fields, and creating grass waterways to both prevent gullies from forming and filter out pollutants. It’s time to stop destroying this land, and start embracing conservation practices.