We are standing at the gateway to another growing season, and with it comes a whole host of changes in the life of a farmer. When the gate of Spring opens, I find that the time for planning comes to an end and the moment for doing begins in earnest. In the spirit of doing, I want to get right to the content I wanted to share with you this April.
We all lead lives that are busy in their own ways, so it makes sense that it can be difficult to engage in an extra activity, no matter how much we might agree with its purpose. In my case, it is my job to be involved. But it is also my job — and the job of organizations like IFU and PAN — to encourage you to become engaged in these processes with me. This is why IFU holds lobby day events, and it explains why PAN sends out these state newsletters. Each group is doing what it can to provide access and opportunity so that you can speak up and feel that your voice is heard. Let me encourage you, once again, toward a life of engagement and a life that works to make things better for all of us.
With the turning of the calendar to a new year and the return of some bitterly cold weather in Iowa, I have been reflecting on a wide range of topics. But, for Iowa News, there are a couple of themes I wanted to share with everyone.
We were driving through what has become an increasingly sparse Iowa landscape on our way from one place to another when we noticed a sign with the farm name proudly displayed — "XYZ Farms."
I have been watching, on and off throughout the last few weeks, as one of our neighbors methodically removes all of the bushes and small trees that populate a fence line between their field and another neighbor’s field.
This is my second year working with the Pesticide Action Network during the end of year giving period that so many non-profit organizations, including PAN, rely on to make their work possible in the coming months. I have been on "both sides of the ball" now and I fully understand how everyone feels when they get yet another appeal for money. However, I also recognize that this IS the season when more people are willing to make a contribution. And, I have also learned that an organization that fails to ask for support will not get it.
The need for local food resources is a topic I find myself writing about frequently. As a farmer who maintains a small-scale, diversified operation, I often share my fear that farms like mine cannot be successful without community support.
I was invited to the celebration and I wanted to participate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had just announced that “it will stop the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on all food to better protect human health…” This is what PAN and many partnering organizations have been working on for years. Getting here has not been easy, and people are understandably ready to give a sigh of relief and enjoy the feeling of a job well done.
A self-sustaining and resilient farm is one that welcomes diversity. Diversity in the products it offers and the enterprises it undertakes. Diversity in the soil. Diversity in the plant and animal life. Diversity in the people that work to keep living farms living.
Fields in our area have seen passes for the application of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides, some of which occurred on days where wind conditions exceeded levels for safe application and temperatures were conducive to vapor drift. Now, we are entering the application timeframe for insecticides and fungicides and the planes, helicopters, and ground rigs will be conspicuous for most of Iowa’s rural population.