Farmers Caught in Bay Debate

Farmers Caught in Bay Debate | flint-ridge-farm-5-600x450-300x225 | Agriculture & Farming Environment EPA Organics US News Donald Lewis lives in Goode and grew up on a dairy and poultry farm in Vermont.

I agree with the Farm Bureau Federation and its lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency.

I also agree the Chesapeake Bay needs cleaning to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. The EPA, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation have not studied the real source of the problem.

They can spend billions of dollars and hire thousands of workers and never clean it until they get to the source.

I read the April 16 letter by Fayetta Weaver about saving natural resources for future generations. Let us start with the most important resource, the soil.

Billions of dollars have been wasted on global warming and not one dollar has been spent to save our soil, the Earth’s life blood.

I will explain what I have learned about the excessive use of chemicals.

In 1958, after five years of transitioning to organic dairy farming, I won the New England in Winter Green Pastures Contest over several hundred farmers using chemical fertilizer, insecticides and herbicides.

The New England judges traveled 2,000 miles in February to judge the top 18 farms. I won because of the roughage and the health of my herd. I also won hay awards at the Vermont Farm Show with 99.7 and 99.5 out of 100 points. There were no weeds in the hay and it had the best quality and texture. I always wanted my fertilizer to stay where I put it down.

We were told that cow manure has very little soluble nitrogen and phosphorus. The nitrogen is in the urine. It needed to be reinforced with water-soluble super types of chemical fertilizer. It was recommended we use all chemical fertilizer, as it was cheaper than handling the manure. I soon learned that rock phosphate was treated with sulfuric acid to make it 20 percent super phosphate. Small corn plants do not use 20 percent super phosphate and 40 percent nitrogen when the plant growth only takes 10 percent percent or less from the soil during growth.

I did a soil test in the spring when all crops and soil micro-organisms are dormant, and all the elements for plant growth were very low. This is the time of year that the chemical companies recommend samples be taken. Mother Nature works in a different way and makes plant food available as the plant needs it.

There is 78 percent nitrogen in the air, and it can be trapped when it rains if the soil is prepared properly. The soil tests are taken at the wrong time of year, and the farmers are overloaded with water-soluble chemicals that drain with the water and end up in the bay. I would like to see how many tons of chemical fertilizer have been used by farmers in the past three decades on the several thousand acres that leach into the thousands of miles of the waterways feeding the bay.

I have never seen or read an article about the excessive use of water-soluble chemical fertilizer. Cow manure is biodegradable, as is all organic matter, to keep the growth cycle going.

The farmers and taxpayers are getting hit with billions of dollars in costs for cleaning up the bay.

With farmers representing only 2 percent of the United States population, the EPA will put more people out of farming.

We do not want to get all our food from outside of the country. The conventional farmers have been advised by the corporations that have no regard for the health of the bay or the health of the living, humans and animals. The rich chemical companies should be cleaning up the bay. The EPA staff has never been near a farm or garden and worked with the soil. How can they give orders and not investigate the source of the nitrogen and phosphorus? Yes, we are passing this problem on to future generations. It is very scary indeed. The food coming from our soil is poorer in quality and unhealthy to eat.

The chemical companies are using greed over humanity.

Donald Lewis is author of the Book, Learned by the Fencepost, Lessons in Organic Farming & Gardening. He started dairy Farming in Vermont after graduating from High School in 1946 and was the FFA Chapter President for four years, State President in 1946. Donald eceived the American Farmers Degree in 1947 and went into partnership with his father and brother, purchasing the farm in 1956. It was a run down farm when his father bought it in 1921. He brought it into good production with cow and chicken manure. It was Organic then, but not recognized as such.  In 1950 Donald did all the farm work and his partners ran the saw mill, doing Organic and Chemicals together for three years. In 1953 he went totally Organic after doing two simple experiments. His dairy herd responded to the Organic roughage. In 1958 Donald won the New England in Winter Green Pastures Contest over several hundred chemical farmers, because of the best roughage and the healthiest dairy herd they saw on their 2000 mile trip through New England. Donald also won many hay awards at the Vermont farm show, receiving 99.7 and 99.5 points out of 100 for three years. The hay was not Judged the fourth year as he was accused of cheating -sure did he was Organic. Not one Farmer nor agriculture adviser came to the farm to see how he did it without chemicals. He left the Farm in 1963 because of uncontrollable circumstances and worked on a Florida farm in 1963 to 1966. Donald went to Computer night school starting in 1964 and finished in 1966, working as a computer operator in computer technology and retired in 1993. He now has a four acre organic farm and gardens in Goode, Virginia and out-grows all chemical gardeners. Soil test are proof you don’t need anything but organic matter.

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