A Fifty-Year Farm Bill

Here's a long-range strategy for reforming agriculture

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Wes Jackson, a plain-spoken Kansan, has been preaching agriculture reform for at least 30 years—and not only preaching but also doing ground-breaking (pardon) research at his Land Institute near Salina. Wes’s basic observation is that a system such as ours, heavily reliant on wheat and corn and other grains, which requires plowing and starting from seed every year, needs fixing. It requires heavy doses of pesticides, which contaminate water and sicken field workers. It squanders topsoil, losing it to erosion and the wind. It demands irrigation that leads to overdrafts of groundwater. You know the drill.

Well now Wes and his team have produced a thorough, rigorous timetable in the form of a Fifty-Year Farm Bill that, if it happens and if it works as planned, would eventually lead to the development of perennial wheat, corn, and other staples that would be productive and easy on land and water. it won’t be easy, and it will stir lots of opposition (visionaries always do), but it’s worth a careful look-see. It’s here.

Tom Turner literally wrote the books about Earthjustice during his more-than-25 years with the organization. A lifelong resident of Berkeley, CA, he is most passionate about Earthjustice's maiden issue: wilderness preservation.