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Veteran Advisor
Jim Meade / Iowa City
Posts: 2,311
Registered: ‎04-30-2010
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The Dust Bowl and the Government

What lessons did you take from your understanding of the dust bowl and government action?

It would be easy to conclude that government is a vital - maybe integral - part of agriculture and this was proven during the '30s.  The government sponsored and funded key conservation efforts that were a critical part of the recovery from the Dust Bowl.  The conservation efforts paid off in the laste '30s and again in the '50s.

Hopefully, we are a lot smarter now about how to care for the ground.  Do we need the government to tell us what is best for the land, or is that knowledge widely availabe now?  If it is available, then it would seem the government would not be needed to teach us how to farm properly.  Ah, you say, but people may know better but not do better.  That is, indeed, the rub.  Do we need a government to tell people to do the things they are smart enough to do but maybe not inclined to do? 

If a person pays $15,000/acre for land, will that person maximize conservation or production?  If it comes down to the little things, will the farmer put in that marginally needed waterway or will he hope the rains will be normal and not test his production methods?

John Walter posted recently about being dismayed at the erosion he saw after the early spring rains this year.  Those rains pushed some conservation efforts over the edge - the farmer hadn't done enought for that extra wet time.

People who believe that coercion is needed are greatly in favor of linking conservation program compliance with crop insurance.

Nebraska posted about a government that forced people to stockpile manure until a certain when he thought conditions called for application.  Government may not always know best and if it does it may not be able to change it's procedures to act in the best interests.

How do these concepts all tie together?  Are we good enough stewards that we don't need government?  Do we trust a government that is not perfect when it's our livelihood at risk?