ASWM is keeping an eye on the development of the 2012 Farm Bill. On this page you can find updates on the Farm Bill as well as agricultural news in the context of wetlands and related issues. For Farm Bill 2012 resources on the web, click here.

By Tom Henry – The Blade – August 31, 2014

Perhaps former President Theodore Roosevelt said it best when he addressed a Buffalo audience in 1910, most likely in his trademark fist-pounding, cantankerous style. “Civilized people,” Mr. Roosevelt said, “should be able to dispose of sewage in a better way than by putting it into drinking water.” Hailed by historians as a key ally of naturalist John Muir, the founder of the Sierra Club, during the fledgling days of the American conservation movement, Mr. Roosevelt was no doubt using that upstate New York event as his bully pulpit to campaign for better Great Lakes protections. But what has changed in the 104 years since the horse-and-buggy era faded into the sunset, and the Great Lakes region — with its rich soil and Internet-savvy modern farming techniques — became increasingly counted on to grow food for a world of 7.2 billion people that has more than quadrupled in size from the global population of 1.75 billion in 1910? For full story, click here.

 

By David Biello – Scientific American – August 8, 2014 – Video

The rains come and water the spring shoots of another bounteous Midwestern corn crop in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. The rains also wash phosphorus off farm fields and into creeks, streams and rivers. The waters flow into the shallowest of the Great Lakes—Lake Erie, which is just 18 meters deep on average and far shallower on its western edge. All that phosphorus doesn't just help crops grow. When it reaches the lake it fuels the growth of mats of bright green algae, turning the water the color of pea soup. Such Microcystis cyanobacteria bear poisons, at least 80 different varieties of a toxin dubbed microcystin. And when the shallow waters deliver an algal bloom down to the right water intake pipes, an entire city like Toledo is left without water. For full article, click here.

By Tim Barker – St. Louis Post-Dispatch – July 13, 2014

After driving several miles along a winding rural road west of this Mississippi River town, Denny Mertz finds what he’s looking for. The retired engineer, turned full-time farmer, stops next to a neighbor’s field covered in soybeans — and something sinister. At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be anything out of the ordinary. Until Mertz points out the yellowish cast infiltrating the deep green of the soybean leaves. It’s waterhemp, a fast-growing weed that torments Midwestern farmers. For full story,click here.

By Emily Chung – CBC News – August 8, 2014

Toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie fouled the water that hundreds of thousands of people rely on for drinking, cooking and bathing last week, forcing hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio to rely on bottled water. The slimy green problem is back with a vengeance. Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, that choke up huge portions of the lake have reemerged as an annual summertime scourge after nearly disappearing for more than a decade. For full story, click here.

By Julie Cart – Los Angeles Times – June 15, 2014

There's not much anyone can tell Barry Sorensen about Idaho's Big Desert that he doesn't know. Sorensen, 72, and his brother have been running cattle in this sere landscape all their lives, and they've weathered every calamity man and nature have thrown at them — until this drought came along. Sitting recently in a rustic cabin where he spends many months looking after his cattle, Sorensen's voice was tinged with defeat. "To be honest with you," he said, "I think our way of life is pretty much going to be over in 10 years." Years-long drought has pummeled millions of acres of federal rangeland in the West into dust, leaving a devastating swath from the Rockies to the Pacific. Add to that climate change, invasive plants and wildfire seasons that are longer and more severe, and conditions have reached a breaking point in many Western regions. The land can no longer support both livestock and wildlife. For full story, click here.