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Economics or the Environment?

The debate continues as to the price we pay to protect the environment. Are jobs and conservation always at odds? What about the Paris Accords from 2016? Can one person, one corporation, or one farm make a difference?

Aside from all the charged  “you” versus “us” factions, the United States is in a heated discussion in many States as to what to protect and how much it will cost. New Florida DEP regulations to protect water quality and quantity in the Suwannee Valley Basin are similarly asking how we can reduce our impact. The big question is how can we keep the economy alive and preserve our beautiful springs?

The 17 counties which make up the northeast part of Florida are principally agriculture. We have over 1/5th of all farmers in the state ( 9,974) and over 1/8th of the farm receipts ($1.1 million).  So farming is a big part of the economy here (USDA 2012 Census). With new precision agriculture tools and wider UF/IFAS extension education, hopefully we can continue to keep those farmers productive while conserving our natural resources. Thomas Jefferson (among our many founding fathers and early farmers) were the first conservationists:

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds. As long, therefore, as they can find employment in this line, I would not convert them into mariners, artisans, or anything else.” –Thomas Jefferson in communication to John Jay, 1785.

The debate continues today in many open forums where collective goals are outlined and respect is given to all stakeholders. Take a look at this small town, Perham Minnesota, and how they address the economic question. We might pay attending to their civility!

COULD THIS ONE SIMPLE IDEA BE THE KEY TO SOLVING FARMER–ENVIRONMENTALIST CONFLICTS?     A rural community finds that for groundwater pollution, understanding each other’s constraints can make all the difference.

A few interesting quotes from Brian Bohman:

“What Perham residents quickly found is that farmers are interested in keeping nitrogen out of the groundwater, too — not only to keep their own drinking water safe, but also due to the economics of fertilizer management: Any nitrogen fertilizer not used by crops is a wasted resource and money down the drain.”

“Farmers were willing to try new nitrogen management practices when they had seen examples on fields they were familiar with and by peers they know and respect.”

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