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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Come on, Joni, make 'em squeal

Joni Ernst arrived in Washington at just the right time. No federal department has strayed from its mission further than the Department of Agriculture. It has become the premier welfare agency boasting of such programs as WIC and EBT and even foreign aid vis a vis International Development (USAID) and worse yet it is frequently antagonistic to farmers,  the constituency it is was created to serve. It expects to spend $146 billion in fiscal 2014 with $123 billion of the total mandated. It would be nice to know why the department needs a $23 billion discretionary account. The USDA's latest sally into hardcore irrelevance is its proposed war on beef. Probably the department reasons that if it can only drive the price of beef high enough everyone will need an EBT card to afford it. It's worth noting that only commodity price that has not fallen in recent months is beef but that's not entirely USDA's fault and readers should disregard the White House's ostentatious consumption of $100 per pound Kobe beef. Fasting is for little people.
One does not have to be a card carrying devotee of Ron Paul to reason that what one eats it none of the government's goddam business. Yes, one supposes it would be helpful if the government could provide a a minimum of advice on nutrition, if asked, but other times just keep its perpetual propensity to advocate for green leafy vegetables to itself. The USDA has moved beyond what is good for the individual to what is good for the planet and has been shanghaied into saving the planet in the event that future generations would actually want to live in a dreary world of vegan diets, cold water showers and liberal Democrats.
The trouble with beef cattle is that they produce methane and use too much water. Remember all the lush greenery on Cliven Bundy's ranch? The scarce water- don't flush if you only pee- is pure hokum. Outside of Utah and the southwest there is no shortage of water nor indication of any future shortage and besides that most farmer water their livestock with farm ponds that catch rain water.
An advisory panel has been discussing the idea of sustainability in public meetings, indicating that its recommendations, expected early this year, may address the environment. A draft recommendation circulated last month said a sustainable diet helps ensure food access for both the current population and future generations. According to PBS, A study by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year said raising beef for the American dinner table is more harmful to the environment than other meat industries such as pork and chicken.
The study said that compared with other popular animal proteins, beef produces more heat-trapping gases per calorie, puts out more water-polluting nitrogen, takes more water for irrigation and uses more land. How, pray tell, do beef cattle manufacture the element nitrogen and who the hell tries to grow feed corn on irrigated land? The most conspicuous use of irrigation are vegetable farms in California many of which had to be sacrificed to save the delta smelt or some such pest. Does fertilizer used on veggies produce nitrogen?
Farmers and those of us who like what they grow have been ill served by Washington. PETA, The National Wildlife Fund, and The Center for Biological Diversity and its stupid Take Extinction Off Your Plate campaign, the organizations whose opinions the USDA values, will not be happy until we are overrun by rabid raccoons and mangy coyotes. It's time for Joni to make them squeal.

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