Set the Record Straight

July 29, 2010

July 29, 2010

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

For two years now, environmentalists have wanted to pass legislation to cap greenhouse gases. Put a tax on carbon. Don’t touch the rain forests. We want “sustainable” agriculture.

Well, now we have the same answers. The facts are staring them right in the face. And they aren’t going to like what they see. Nevertheless, facts are facts. Truths are irrefutable.

The savior is modern agriculture, factory farming, whatever you want to call it.

Dennis Avery, a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, summarizes a comprehensive study done by Stanford University. This study should be required reading for all environmental and animal rights activists.

“Conventional and high yield farming is far better for the planet than low yield farming.”

  1.  It takes less land to produce the same amount of food.
  2. When we plow up more land for low yield crops, billions of tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere.
  3. Biotechnology has given us a 36% increase in corn yield in the last 15 years and 17% increase in soybean yield.
  4. Pesticide applications are down 8.4% globally (775 million pounds) in that 15-year period.
  5. 141 million gallons of fuel have been saved. All of this reduces the emission of greenhouse gases.

Let’s take a quick look at livestock and milk production. The number of dairy cows in the U.S. in the last 60 years has decreased from 25 million to 9 million. And, get this, those 9 million produce 50% more milk. Our dairy cows last year produced 20,000 pounds of milk per cow compared to the European cow that only produced 12,000 pounds. They don’t get it in Europe. They’re still fighting modern agriculture. We produce much more milk with fewer cows and – “bingo” – the carbon footprint is reduced accordingly.

Another fact is the confinement feeding of livestock sharply reduces greenhouse gases. It has been estimated that it would take a land mass the size of Pennsylvania to raise hogs on free range.

We need to sing the praises of modern agriculture. Subsistence farming is not sustainable. Subsistence farming will harm the environment and cannot feed the people.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.