“In the years to come, we’re asking U.S. farmers to take on a double-challenge,” says Jon Scholl, president of American Farmland Trust (AFT). “First, we’re asking them to provide enough food, fiber and biofuel to meet the needs of 9 billion people by 2050, and at the same time, asking them to do that under more environmental and land resource pressure.”
It has been found that the annual erosion rate in Corn Belt states is 3.9 tons per acre. “This is a cause for concern,” says Scholl, responding to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) report: Losing Ground. Losing Ground provides a critical analysis of soil erosion using data collected by the USDA, Iowa State University scientists, and the Iowa Daily Erosion Project .
“AFT analysis of additional data from the National Resources Inventory also shows that each of the 48 contiguous states lost agricultural land to development,” Scholl adds. “More than 23 million acres of agricultural land were converted from 1982-2007 —an area the size of the state of Indiana.”
“Simply put, conservation and farmland protection are at a crossroads,” Scholl adds. “Land and healthy soil are the strategic resources critical to our nation’s ability to feed itself and to secure our nation’s future. Conservation programs are vital to maintaining those resources.”
Scholl notes that key conservation programs, which help farmers improve and protect soil, farmland and water were cut significantly in the FY2011 federal budget. “At a time when we are debating which public programs do the most for our money—it seems prudent to invest our public agricultural support conservation now, so we are best positioned to meet the challenges ahead.”
“The challenge of our times is to be able to ramp up agricultural production under greater environmental and resource pressure—to do that in a sustainable way. Farmers deserve our support in meeting these challenges, and our country cannot afford to ignore issues like soil health, erosion and farmland loss,” Scholl says. “Conservation programs in the farm bill are vital to making sure farmers have what they need to protect their farms and our environment while also meeting the incredible production demands of a hungry world.”